Almost 62,000 people have been evacuated in Malaysia, a Fire and Rescue Department chief told The Anadolu Agency on Wednesday. He added that between 100 to 200 others – mostly tourists -- were stranded at a national park in Pahang state during the heaviest rainfall in 40 years.
"They are stranded in three resorts around the national park. We are using helicopter and boats to retrieve them,” Wan Mohd Nor Ibrahim said in a text message. “The utmost priority would be their safety."
Visitors and staff at the Mutiara Taman Negara Resort were stranded after riverbanks overflowed across the park, which spans more than 1 million acres and recorded its highest rainfall since 1971.
Ibrahim said the flood situation across Malaysia’s East Coast states was getting worse day by day, making it necessary to establish more evacuation centers.
Explaining that the people of the region are familiar with the rainy season, he said, “It was just that this year, we didn't expect such rainfall which causes unexpected chaos."
In Indonesia, more than 34,500 people have been displaced on the islands of Java and Sumatra amid heavy downpour that left around 7,370 homes submerged since last week.
Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, national disaster management agency spokesperson, said in a press release that “there were no fatalities" in the flooding in the provinces of Aceh and West Java.
Around 28,000 people were forced to take shelter in makeshift tents and buildings located on higher ground in Aceh’s Tamiang Regency as water levels reached heights of 40 –150 cm. Meanwhile, more than 6,600 others have evacuated their homes in West Java since the Citarum River – the largest and longest in the province – began overflowing Thursday.
"People in the area are familiar with the Citarum River overflow caused by floods," said Sutopo. He adding that disaster management officials, police and soldiers have been helping in evacuation efforts and setting up tents, public kitchens and health services.
Sutopo predicted that natural disasters in Indonesia would mount in January, coinciding with the peak of the rainy season.
"During January-March, the rain will be high. There will be lot of floods and landslides," he said.
The tropical Southeast Asian nations of Malaysia and Indonesia experience flooding-related incidents during the monsoon season every year.
While eastern Malaysia faces flood threats during the Northeast Monsoon, there are around 1,295 natural disaster cases per year in Indonesia, particularly in Java and Sumatra in December.
In the latest incident earlier this month, heavy rainfall triggered a landslide in Central Java province that claimed 95 lives and left 13 others missing. Landslides have caused over 340 deaths this year, more than any other natural disaster in Indonesia.