Malaysia govt under fire over slow clean-up after deadly floods

·2-min read
A clean-up is under way in parts of Malaysia after the country's worst floods in years (AFP/Arif KARTONO)

Malaysia's government was under fire Monday as residents accused it of responding too slowly after the country's worst floods in years.

Days of torrential rain caused rivers to overflow last week, swamping cities, forcing tens of thousands of people to flee their homes.

Damaged appliances and soaked furniture were piled up on the streets and outside homes in flood-hit areas as residents and volunteers continued a massive clean-up drive.

Many were frustrated with the authorities.

"I am angry. There is no assistance from the government... We need cash to rebuild our lives," said Asniyati Ismail, who lives in a residential enclave in Shah Alam, the capital of Selangor state.

"There is mud everywhere, everything has been destroyed," she told AFP as her two children helped her clean.

The mounds of rubbish left in the area after the floods have also sparked fear of disease outbreaks.

Selangor, which encircles the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur, was the state hit hardest by the floods.

Many in Shah Alam were left stranded in their homes with barely any food for days, before being evacuated on boats in a chaotic rescue operation.

"The government has been absolutely slow in the rescue mission," resident Kartik Rao told AFP.

"And now they are slow in the clean-up operation. Even after seven days, the rubbish in this neighbourhood has not been cleaned up."

Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob has admitted "weaknesses" in the flood response, but has pledged improvements in future.

Malaysia is hit by floods annually during the monsoon season, from November to February, but the ones this month were the worst since 2014.

They have left at least 48 people dead and five missing across Malaysia, officials said.

Global warming has been linked to worsening floods.

Because a warmer atmosphere holds more water, climate change increases the risk and intensity of flooding from extreme rainfall.

Kawitha Maratha, 39, and her four children were rescued by a boat after floodwater rose rapidly to the second floor of their house in Shah Alam.

Her husband died.

"The flood has destroyed our lives," she said.

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