Malaysia floods: 23,000 evacuated, hygiene concerns unnerves evacuees

Prime Minister Najib Razak is expected to visit Terengganu and Kelantan on Saturday to oversee rescue efforts.

Malaysia floods: Thousands still stranded in relief centres, hygiene concerns scares evacuees
A man sits on a boat in a flood affected area in Temerloh, 150 km (93 miles) outside of Kuala Lumpur, December 7, 2013 Reuters (Representational Image)

Nearly 23,000 people were forced to leave their homes due to the massive floods in the north-eastern Malaysian states of Kelantan and Terengganu and still remain stranded in relief centres, officials said on Thursday. The authorities have ordered to open more relief centres.

Every year, Malaysia's east coast states are hit by seasonal flooding and frequently results in mass evacuations. But, this latest floods has forced the authorities to evacuate almost 10,038 residents from Kelantan and at least 12,910 people from neighbouring Terengganu.

In the past few days, heavy rainfall forced 101 schools to be closed and the train services to some destinations in Kelantan were suspended. However, there were no reports of any deaths so far.

Che Adam Abdul Rahman, the civil department force chief in Terengganu, said the number of evacuees rose sharply to 12,910 from 4,352 the previous day. All of them are being housed in 139 relief centres where they are being provided food, drinks and medical aid.

"It is still raining heavily. Some 30 village roads are closed, and water levels at some places are about 1m deep and we are using boats to evacuate villagers," Rahman told AFP.

But, when asked about the amenities at the relief centres, evacuees said food was sufficient but there were hygiene concerns. The dustbins were overflowing with garbage while families with young children were squeezed into small classrooms.

The flood victims said they were worried about future supplies of clean drinking water, loss of income and thieves looting their homes.

Meanwhile, on Tuesday, the number of evacuees in Kelantan rose from 4,906 and more than 10,000 people have been displaced by flooding. Zainuddin Hussin, chief of the state's civil department force, said 74 relief centres were operating in Kelantan.

Malaysia`s worst flooding in decades occurred in 2014 and forced some 118,000 people to flee their homes. Prime Minister Najib Razak came under fire for golfing with US President Barack Obama during the crisis.

As a general election is expected this year, Najib is expected to visit Terengganu and Kelantan on Saturday to oversee rescue efforts. The votes from both the two states will be highly crucial for the ruling United Malays National Organisation (UMNO).