Johor floods: 4 dead and 40 thousand fled their homes in Malaysia

(CNN) Rescue efforts are underway in parts of the city Malaysia After monsoon floods that killed at least four people and displaced more than 40,000.

Among the deaths confirmed by state authorities on Saturday in Johor was a man who was trapped in a car that was swept away by surging flood waters.

Footage taken by rescue workers and volunteers in towns across the southern state showed groups of people stranded on rooftops and their homes hidden underwater.

Pictures released by the National Flood Disaster Agency showed rescuers wading chest-deep in some areas to rescue people trapped in their homes. A rescue worker is seen carrying a baby in a bucket to safety.

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

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

Malaysia, like many of its Southeast Asian neighbors, is prone to monsoon floods. Neighboring Singapore has seen heavy rains since February.

The worst floods in Malaysia in decades occurred in 2021, when 54 people were killed and the army was mobilized. Widespread flooding that year struck eight states and strained emergency services across the country, drawing 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, with a population of 4 million, is the second most populous state in Malaysia and the one most affected by this season’s floods. Officials said tens of thousands of its residents have now moved to relief centers in schools and community halls.

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Experts from the Malaysian Meteorological Department have warned that the wet weather may continue into April.

Flood waters inundated the town of Kota Tinggi.

Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim shared an update from Johor on Sunday after visiting survivors and evacuees, saying the floods were an urgent issue for the country and that the government would expedite mitigation projects.

“This issue (of the floods) cannot be delayed and must be dealt with more seriously so that it does not happen again,” he said in a statement. tweet.

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.

“River water levels are still high and it is expected to rain heavily again,” said Amira Issa Abdelaziz, deputy head of the group. “Don’t wait too long if the water starts to rise. Move to safer areas as soon as possible.”

“Remember: your life is more valuable than your belongings,” she added.

Ameera said the country urgently needs to address its flood problems, saying it cannot sustain so many disasters “in such a short period of time”.

But Phon Hoa, a 61-year-old worker at a local biscuit and coffee factory in Batu Pahat town, told CNN it was still raining. He was worried about the many friends and relatives who were lost, and said the effects of the floods would be devastating. “We are powerless,” said Bot.

“Everyone is getting involved but the force of the weather is too much. There is so much we can do. The government can deploy many teams and operators to help but at the end of the day, Malaysians are at the mercy of nature.”

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