PENGKALAN CHEPA, Malaysia- Rescue teams struggled Saturday to reach inundated areas of northeast Malaysia as victims accused the government of being slow to provide assistance after the country’s worst flooding in decades.
Malaysians have vented their anger at Prime Minister Najib Razak after the release of photos which went viral on social media showing him playing golf with US President Barack Obama during the storms.
The number of people forced to flee their homes climbed past 120,000 with weather forecasters warning of no respite for the northeastern states of Kelantan, Terengganu and Pahang.
The under-fire-Najib was expected to arrive in Kelantan Saturday to lead the national flood response after cutting short his vacation in Hawaii, his aide Tengku Sariffuddin Tengku Ahmad told AFP.
The government has allocated about $14 million to manage relief centres.
Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin admitted rescuers were facing challenges with power outages and roads being washed away by the floods.
“I admit the situation is challenging to the rescue workers and we are trying our best to make sure that the food arrives to the victims depending on the flood situation,” he was quoted as saying by the Star newspaper.
Military helicopters and trucks were seen in Kota Bharu area, which is near the border with southern Thailand, but rescue efforts were being hampered by fast rising waters and strong currents while roads to hard-hit areas were impassable.
“The severity and scale of the floods had taken the authorities completely by surprise as it was worse than anticipated, overwhelming all disaster management plans and preparations,” Lim Kit Siang, veteran opposition MP with the Democratic Action Party said in a statement Saturday.