Rescue efforts are underway in parts of Malaysia after seasonal flooding killed at least four people and displaced more than 40,000.
Among the deaths confirmed by state authorities in Johor on Saturday was a man who became trapped in a car that was swept away by rising floodwaters.
Footage taken by rescuers and volunteers in towns across the southern state showed groups of people stranded on rooftops as their homes submerged.
Footage shared by the National Flood Disaster Agency showed rescuers wading chest deep in some areas to rescue people trapped in their homes. A rescue worker was seen carrying a baby to safety in a bucket.
Other images showed flooded roads and forests and vehicles submerged in muddy water.
Malaysia, like many of its Southeast Asian neighbours, is vulnerable to seasonal flooding. Neighboring Singapore has experienced torrential downpours since February.
Malaysia’s worst flooding in decades occurred in 2021, when 54 people died and the army was mobilized. Widespread flooding that year affected eight states and put a strain on emergency services across the country, leading to 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 Malaysia’s second most populous state and has been the hardest hit by this season’s floods. Tens of thousands of residents have now moved to shelters in schools and community centers, officials said.
Experts from the Malaysian Meteorological Service have warned that the wet weather could last into April.
Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim shared an update from Johor on Sunday after visiting survivors and evacuees, saying flooding was an urgent problem for the country and the government would accelerate mitigation projects.
“This issue (floods) cannot be postponed 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.
“The water level in the rivers is still high and heavy rains are predicted to return,” said Amira Aisya Abdul Aziz, the deputy president of the group. “Don’t wait too long when the water starts to rise. Move to safer areas as soon as possible.”
“Remember: your life is more valuable than your possessions,” she added.
Amira said the country urgently needed to address its flood problems, saying it could not afford to endure so many disasters “in such a short time”.
Pot Phoon Hua, a 61-year-old worker at a local biscuit and coffee factory in Batu Pahat town, told CNN it was still raining. He expressed concern about a number of missing friends and relatives and said the aftermath of the flood would be devastating. “We’re helpless,” Pot said.
“Everyone participates, but the weather is too great. There’s only so much we can do. The government can deploy many teams and workers to help, but ultimately Malaysians are at the mercy of nature.”