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Thursday, November 4, 2010

Death toll rises to two, 36,000 evacuated as floods worsen

KUALA LUMPUR Nov 3 — The death toll has risen to two and more than 36,000 people have been driven to relief centres by this evening as the floods in Perlis, Kedah and Kelantan worsened, forcing the closure of roads, rail services, schools and government offices. Kedah is the worst hit of the three states, where the floods have claimed two lives so far and forced the evacuation of 25,088 people as at 5pm as well as washed out the plans of several Hindu families to celebrate Deepavali on Friday.

Up to 11,411 people had moved out of their homes in Perlis and 475 in Kelantan.

In KEDAH, Kubang Pasu police chief Supt Sawaludin Hamenudin said the body of a German woman, Erna Fisher, 64, was recovered near her house in Kampung Kerenjis, Kota Giam, in Jitra after she was reported missing at 8.30pm yesterday. Form One student Mohd Zaki Amani Shaari, 13, drowned yesterday after he slipped and fell into a flooded padi field while fishing with his brother in Kampung Charok Bongor in Padang Terap.

Sawaludin also said that two sisters — Siti Nadia Syukor, 13, and Sharifah Syukor, eight — were feared drowned after a motorcycle they were riding pillion on crashed into an irrigation canal in Kampung Telaga Mas in Pokok Sena today.

The rider, Intan Malik, 14, clung onto a tree branch and was rescued by villagers, he added.
A spokesman of the National Security Council operations room said the 25,088 evacuees in Kedah were from four districts, namely Kubang Pasu (15,613), Padang Terap (3,105), Kota Setar (5,331) and Pokok Sena (1,039), and were taking shelter at 94 relief centres, 45 of them in Kubang Pasu, 35 in Padang Terap, nine in Kota Setar and five in Pokok Sena.

The following roads remained closed this evening: KOTA SETAR 1. Jalan Pantai Johor - Gunung Keriang 2. Jalan Kuala Sungai - Sungai Baru 3. Jalan Alor Setar - Kepala Batas 4. Jalan Kepala Batas - Bukit Pinang 5. Jalan Hutan Kampung - Kepala Batas 6. Darulaman Highway (several stretches) POKOK SENA 1. Jalan Lengkuas - Derang 2. Jalan Derang - Batu 11 Pokok Sena KUBANG PASU 1. Jalan Tanah Merah - Wang Tepus 2. Jalan Kepala Batas - Kemunting 3. Jalan Jitra - Sungai Korok 4. Jalan Tunjang - Teluk Malek 5. Jalan Teluk Malek - Kampung Naga 6. Jalan Jitra - Bukit Wang 7. Jalan Napoh - Wang Tepus 8. Jalan Changlun - Kodiang 9. Km10.2 to Km28 of North-South Expressway PADANG TERAP 1. Jalan Kampung Kubu - Simpang Nai Teh 2. Nai Teh - Kampung Tengah junction 3. Jalan Kuala Nerang - Kampung Tanjung 4. Jalan Kampung Tanjung - Puncak Janing 5. Jalan Kuala Nerang - Durian Burung 6. Jalan Batu 19 Kuala Nerang - Kampung Rambuntan 7. Jalan Masjid Kuala Nerang - Kampung Rambutan 8. Jalan K. Nerang - Barokhas 9. Jalan Kampung Tanjung - Tok Pelu.

The road link between Jitra and capital Alor Setar has been cut off after several roads were flooded up to one metre in stretches, making them impassable to light vehicles.

The two main roads — Alor Setar-Hutan Kampung and Alor Setar-Kepala Batas — have been flooded, along with several village roads which usually serve as alternative routes.

A check by Bernama revealed that the daily activities of the people have been crippled and several camps had been erected here and there as temporary shelter for the flood evacuees.

Most retail shops seem to running out of dry or canned foods such as salted fish, sardine, eggs and rice.

M. Kalidas, 45, a resident of Kampung Muhibah in Jitra, said the floodwaters hit all of a sudden yesterday evening and there was little time to save any belongings.

“I only managed to save my 50 cows. All the preparations made to celebrate Deepavali have been wiped out,” he said.

Kalidas, who is chairman of the Kampung Muhibah Village Development and Security Committee, said 68 families in the village had had to move out of their homes.

Many of them erected temporary shelters instead of moving to the relief centres because they could not leave their livestock unattended, he said.

Another resident, M. Hemalatha, 42, said the Hindu temple in Kampung Muhibah, which was never affected by floods over the past 38 years, was flooded to a depth of almost two metres.

"The floods this time are the worst so far. All preparations made for Deepavali, such as delicacies and new clothes, have been damaged or washed away by the floods,” she said.

It was a similar story among Hindus in Taman Aman, Anak Bukit, in Alor Setar.

M. Salachi, 56, said the delicacies prepared for the family for Deepavali had been washed away by the floodwaters. Fortunately, she had handed over to her customers the orders for such delicacies, including “murukku”, she added.

Her son, K. Sundram, said the floods hit the housing estate yesterday evening and their house was affected at about 4am today.

"The floodwaters rose quickly and we were unable to save our belongings and the Deepavali goodies,” he said.

"We do not know where to go now. Most probably, we may move to a relief centre because the floodwaters are rising. We may celebrate Deepavali there.”

M. Hanand, 26, said he had hoped to celebrate Deepavali with his family at their newly rented house in Taman Aman but the plan had been foiled by the floods.

Hanand, who works at a factory in Penang, returned to Alor Setar yesterday to be with the family for the festival.

"We plan to go to a relative”s house in Sungai Petani if the floods worsen, and celebrate the festival there,” he said.

Most of the people approached described the floods this time as worst than that five years ago.

Meanwhile, Kedah Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Azizan Abdul Razak said the state government had allocated RM300,000 as preliminary aid to the flood victims in the state, including for immediate aid to the relief centres.

He said the people had to bear with road closures as well as disruption in electricity and water supply in several areas in three districts.

"Several water treatment plants had to be closed owing to disruption in electricity supply as well as the murky water,” he said, adding that the aid allocation would be supplemented from time to time.

Speaking to reporters after chairing a meeting of the state executive council, he called on voluntary and non-governmental organisations to provide assistance, saying the floods this time were worse than that in 2005.
Azizan also said that the floods had started to affect a fifth district, Pendang, since yesterday.

"We have mobilised all government agencies and statutory bodies to go down to the field to render assistance. We are also getting the help of the military, fire and rescue service, and the Civil Defence Department,” he said.

He said preliminary aid such as foodstuff, blankets and clothing were distributed two days ago when the floods hit the Padang Terap district.

He also said that Syarikat Air Darul Aman (Sada) was supplying potable water in tanker lorries.

In PERLIS, the 11,411 evacuees were being sheltered at about 50 relief centres, said a spokesman of the State Welfare Department flood operations room.

He said the number had almost doubled since this morning despite 1,162 evacuees having been allowed to return to their homes by this evening.

Perlis Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Dr Md Isa Sabu advised the evacuees to safeguard their health and drink only clean water, cautioning that they could be exposed to the threat of water-borne diseases if they were not careful.

On complaints by some people over the disconnection of electricity supply by Tenaga Nasional Berhad, Md Isa said this was done for their own safety.

"There is no favouritism in the matter. Even my residence was without electricity in the morning,” he said.

The floods have also resulted in the closure of the offices of the Inland Revenue Board (IRB) and the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) in Kangar.

Perlis IRB public relations officer Khairil Anwar Hashim said the people could go to the IRB office in Alor Setar, Kedah, for the time being.

EPF General Manager for Public Relations Nik Afendi Jaafar said those in Perlis could make use of the EPF office in Alor Setar at 33, Jalan Badlishah.

n KELANTAN, four more schools were closed today, taking to 13 the number shut so far, and the number of evacuees rose slightly to 475.

"As of this morning, the Education Department has announced the closure of 13 schools in the Pasir Mas and Tumpat districts due to floods,” said State Education Director Hussein Awang told Bernama.

All the schools are located on either side of the Golok River which has burst its banks in several areas, causing floodwaters to rise by between 0.5 metre and three metres since Saturday.

A spokesman of the Pasir Mas flood operations room said one more relief centre had been opened, at Sekolah Kebangsaan Tok Deh in Rantau Panjang where 23 people from Kampung Tok Deh and Kampung Che Daah were taking shelter.

"At the old railway station, the number of evacuees remains at 410, comprising evacuees from Kampung Kedai Lama, Kedap, and Kampung Dangar, while 42 people have been moved to Sekolah Kebangsaan Gual Tinggi from Kampung Banggol Kulim and Bandang Guchil,” he told Bernama.

The level of the Golok River in Rantau Panjang as at 4pm had receded to 10.12 metres, but was still above the danger level of nine metres, he said.

He also said that all the main roads in the state were passable but stretches of two alternative roads between Jeli and Rantau Panjang remained closed to light vehicles at Lalang Pepuyu and Lubok Stol.

Many shops in the Duty-Free Zone in Rantau Panjang remained closed as that area of the town, beside the Golok River, was still flooded.

The weather in Kelantan this evening was cloudy.
— BERNAMA

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