Kuala Lumpur (AFP)
Three people were killed and four more are missing after floodwaters swept over a mountain in northern Malaysia and swept through villages, authorities said Thursday.
Water laden with mud, rocks and logs hit settlements near Mount Jerai on Wednesday, leaving streets and houses flooded and cars swept away.
Properties in the two affected districts sustained severe damage as some people remained trapped inside their homes, rescuers said.
“I grew up in this village and this is the first time that I see such an incident,” local resident Salwa Mohamad Isa told the official Bernama news agency.
“Bridges and roads collapsed, cars were washed away and people died. “
Forty people were evacuated from their homes to community centers, and the search and rescue operation continues.
Local NGOs said clearing forests and mining in the environmentally sensitive area may have played a role.
“All of these destructive activities in this fragile ecosystem must be stopped urgently,” they said in a statement.
But a senior official denied that logging caused the floods, blaming instead on the intensity of the downpours.
Flash floods are common in tropical Malaysia.
But scientists say climate change increases the risk and intensity of flooding from extreme rainfall because a warmer atmosphere holds more water.
© 2021 AFP