Seven states in Malaysia are now severely affected by flooding and more than 132,000 people have been evacuated. In some areas, entire towns have been submerged.
The situation in Kelantan, Terengganu, Pahang, Johor and Perak is reported to have worsened, and Negeri Sembilan is now inundated. The situation in Perlis is reported to have improved slightly.
The states of Kedah and Selangor are less hard hit.
Eight deaths have now been reported: five in Kelantan, which borders on southern Thailand, and three in neighbouring Terengganu.
Malaysia’s Prime Minister Najib Razak cut short his holiday in the United States and arrived in Kelantan this afternoon. He had been heavily criticised when Malaysians heard that he was playing golf in Hawaii with the US president Barak Obama while his country was deluged.
The state news agency, Bernama, said Najib went to a closed-door briefing by the National Security Council about the flooding.
Najib announced an additional allocation of 500 million ringgit (about 143 million US dollars) to help flood victims nationwide. Malaysia’s finance ministry had already approved an immediate allocation of 50 million ringgit (about 14 million US dollars) for flood-hit states
Najib also said the next scheduled phase of the Bantuan 1 Malaysia (BR1M) cash payment for lower-income people in Malaysia would be brought forward to mid-January.
The prime minister said he had been informed that certain locations that were not affected by flooding in the past were badly hit this time.
He said the level of flood waters was very high, with very strong currents. There were difficulties supplying people with clean water and many relief centres were without electricity.
Heavy downpours are expected over the next few days in several parts of Malaysia, including Johor, which neighbours Singapore. Residents there have been cautioned to prepare for possible massive floods.
Quoted in the Malay Mail online, Meteorological Department officer Azlai Ta’at said rainfall was expected to increase tomorrow (Sunday), especially on the east coast, and would continue until Tuesday.
He said the department predicted that the monsoon would only move in the middle of January, which means the rainy season will continue in the east until next month.
Azlai said, however, that the current rains were not because of the monsoon. “There is a vortex with high wind concentration in Selangor and Malacca which we predict will cause rains for another few more days,” he was quoted as saying.
A fund-raising drive was taking place in front of the Pavilion shopping mall in Kuala Lumpur this afternoon.
MyBanjir is a community service that has been set up to build more effective communication for the distribution of emergency supplies and help the rescue operations.