Malaysian villagers evacuated in excavator as floods hit

KAMPUNG SEMENTEH, MALAYSIA: Some Malaysian villagers were evacuated in an excavator while others swam through deep waters yesterday as the number forced from their homes by floods rose to more than 28,000 with at least four dead.

Flooding hits the country's east coast during the rainy season annually and regularly results in mass evacuations.

The worst-hit state is Pahang, where more than 21,000 people have been evacuated in recent days, with almost 4,000 forced from their homes in Johor and thousands more in other states, according to the social welfare department.

Four deaths have so far been reported in Pahang and Johor.

Yesterday, a group of villagers was evacuated from the small settlement of Kampung Sementeh in Pahang, which has been cut off by the floods, in an excavator, an AFP journalist at the scene said.

A pregnant woman and a sick elderly woman were among a handful of residents sitting in the raised shovel of the machine as it drove along a flooded road, while others hung off the cab.

Residents of another cut-off village swam through floodwaters about 1.8m deep as they sought to obtain supplies of fresh water and food.

"It has been raining for three days, food is running low, some shops are closed," factory worker Juzaili Mat Zain, 44, who helped organise the excavator evacuation from Kampung Sementeh, told AFP.

"There are no government boats or heavy trucks to help."

Electricity had been cut off in the village and some houses were inundated, he added.

Home Minister Hamzah Zainudin said thousands of personnel and assets from agencies under the Home Ministry, including 8,653 police officers have been deployed for flood relief operations.

The Home Minister said the police officers were deployed from Selangor, Perak, Johor, Pahang, Kelantan and Terengganu.

The flood situation in Johor has continued to improve as the number of victims placed at temporary relief centres (PPS) has continued to drop, Johor health and environment committee chairman R. Vidyananthan said.

He said that as of 4pm yesterday, there were 3,182 people from 807 families placed at PPS compared with 3,566 people from 903 families at 8am on the same day. - AFP, THE STAR