KUALA LUMPUR- Malaysia’s worst flooding in decades forced more than 100,000 people to flee as premier Najib Razak came under fire after photos showed him golfing with US President Barack Obama during the storms.
At least five people have been killed by the rising waters and there appeared little respite on the way on Friday, with forecasters predicting further heavy rainfall across previously unaffected southern parts of the country.
As local media carried photographs of people wading through flood waters as deep as two metres (6.5 feet) and entire houses submerged by rising water, the government faced criticism for not declaring a state of emergency to help devastated communities.
Seasonal flooding hits Malaysia every year and regularly forces tens of thousands from their homes, but the latest round has forced authorities to evacuate more than 100,000, mostly in the north-east, state news agency Bernama reported.
Among the dead was a man who drowned at a relief centre on Christmas eve, while a rescue boat carrying eight people including a young couple went missing after it became entrapped in a whirlpool and capsized, the news agency said.
Rising flood water has rendered several roads unusable and authorities have suspended train services in some of the worst-affected areas. Communications have also been badly hit by the storms.
In a rare piece of positive news, around 100 tourists who were stranded in a remote resort in central Malaysia’s Mutiara Taman Negara Resort were rescued and sent to a relief centre.
Malaysian Prime Minister Najib called on rescue workers desperately trying to reach flood victims to step up their efforts to deliver food and water.