Malaysia evacuates thousands as monsoon-season flash floods hit

Malaysia has been hit by flash floods in various parts of the country days after the monsoon season began last week, prompting authorities to relocate more than 1,800 people to relief centres, Bernama reported.

Kedah, Penang and Malacca were the latest states to be affected after Selangor - the nation's richest and most industrialised - Kelantan and Johor, the news agency said, citing the National Disaster Management Agency. 

Last week's floods and heavy rain warnings in Selangor forced some candidates contesting Malaysia's general election due this Saturday to halt their campaigning events to attend to flood victims, local media reported. 

The floods have also sparked renewed criticism of the decision by Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yakoob's government to call an early election on Nov 19 during the monsoon season, even though the vote was scheduled for September 2023. Last year's floods - the nation's worst in decades - left dozens dead, displaced more than 61,000 people and caused an estimated RM6.1 billion (S$1.8 billion) in losses.

Ismail vowed that the government would prepare for the worst weather-wise. More than 6,000 temporary shelters would be set up nation-wide, enough to house over a million people, he said in a Facebook post in September after chairing a meeting with the natural disaster management committee. On Thursday (Nov 10), he directed agencies including the disaster management agency, Fire and Rescue Department and the armed forces to assist in the evacuation of flood victims, according to Bernama. 

Malaysia's meteorological department has warned that there will be thunderstorms and continuous rains until Nov 17. Floods in the South-east Asian country have become an annual phenomenon, triggered by the north-east monsoon that brings heavy rain from November to March.  BLOOMBERG

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