Johor floods: 4 dead, 40,000 fleeing home in Malaysia

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Rescue efforts are underway in parts of Malaysia after seasonal floods have killed at least four people and displaced more than 40,000.

Among the deaths confirmed on Saturday by Johor state authorities was a man trapped in a car that was swept away by rising floodwaters.

Pictures taken by rescuers and volunteers in towns across the southern state showed groups of people stranded on rooftops as their houses disappeared under the water.

Images shared by the National Flood Agency showed rescuers wading in chest-deep in some areas to rescue people trapped in their homes. One rescuer was seen carrying a child in a bucket to safety.

Other images showed flooded roads and forests and vehicles submerged in muddy water.

An aerial view shows the extent of flooding in the town of Yong Peng, located in the southern state of Johor in Malaysia on March 4, 2023.

Malaysia, like many of its Southeast Asian neighbors, is prone to seasonal flooding. Nearby Singapore has been experiencing heavy rains since February.

Malaysia’s worst floods in decades occurred in 2021, when 54 died and the army was called into action. The widespread flooding that year hit eight states and strained emergency services across the country, prompting criticism of the government’s response to the disaster.

The country’s annual monsoon season began in November and people have been evacuating their homes since at least December.

Johor, population 4 million, is the second most populous state in Malaysia and is the worst hit by the floods this season. Tens of thousands of its residents have now moved to relief centers in schools and community halls, officials said.

Experts from the Malaysian Meteorological Department have warned that the wet weather could continue until April.

Kota Tinggi town inundated by floods.

Members of the Malaysian United Democratic Alliance (MUDA), a youth-led political party with a large presence in Johor, advised residents to accept help from rescue agencies and warned against “waiting too long” to evacuate their homes .

“The water levels in the river are still high and heavy rain is expected again,” said Amira Aisya Abdul Aziz, the group’s vice president. “Don’t wait too long if the water level starts to rise. Move to safer areas as soon as possible.”

“Remember: Your life is more valuable than your possessions,” she said.

Pot Phoon Hua, a 61-year-old worker at a local biscuit and coffee factory in Batu Pahat town, told CNN that the rain was still continuing. He expressed fear and concern for several friends and relatives who were missing and said that what happened after the flood would be terrible. “We are helpless,” said Pot.

“Everyone is putting in but the force of the weather is too great. There is only so much we can do. The government can send many teams and workers to help but at the end of the day, Malaysians are just at the mercy of nature. ”

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