Torrential rains that battered Malaysia for days left at least 14 people dead and more than 70,000 driven out of their homes.
- According to Ministry of Environment and Water Secretary-General Zaini Ujang, the downpour the country faced from Dec. 17 to 18 reportedly amounted to a month’s average rainfall.
- Authorities are currently mobilizing rescue efforts. Floodwaters started receding in many parts of the country, but major roads remain blocked.
- Among the most heavily impacted areas was Selangor, the most densely populated state in the country in which Kuala Lumpur can be found.
- On Tuesday, military officers used boats to reach residents stuck in their houses. The officers distributed food in Selangor’s capital of Shah Alam, where certain areas remain underwater.
- Based on official data, out of the more than 70,000 who were displaced, around 26,000 were from Selangor while 41,000 were from Pahang.
- In addition to the eight who died in Selangor and the six who died in Pahang, there are still reports of people who remain missing.
Mounting criticism: As volunteers help official rescue efforts in providing boats and other supplies, critics have expressed dissatisfaction toward the government’s response to the calamity, reported CNN.
- “Rainfall like this happens only once in a hundred years,” said Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob on Sunday, when he declared that $23 million would be set aside for “post-flood recovery efforts.”
- Opposition leaders, however, decried the delay in support to the affected areas, with lawmaker Fuziah Salleh calling the official response “hopeless” and “incompetent.”
- “Tonight will be the third night, people are still screaming for boats,” lawmaker Hannah Yeoh told local press. “We want (the government) to activate assistance immediately so that we no longer find bodies.”
- One resident, whose family was trapped for two days before being saved by friends on Monday, lamented that they waited for government help to no avail.
- “Help from the government never came for us, we only got help from the parents of the children I was taking care of,” 43-year-old Sazuatu Remly told Reuters. “I really hope authorities can act more quickly, and they give more attention to the people here.”
The Philippines is also reeling from the effects of Typhoon Rai, which left at least 375 dead and over 600,000 people displaced after pummeling the country with heavy rainfall and strong winds starting on Thursday.
Featured Image via France 24 English