12/20/2006, 00.00
MALAYSIA
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Heavy floods in south : more than 26,000 people evacuated

Johor state was subject to three days of heavy monsoon rains: the main roads were blocked and train links to Singapore disrupted in the worst floods in the area in 100 years.

Kuala Lumpur (AsiaNews/Agencies) – The Malaysian authorities have evacuated thousands of people from their homes in the southern state of Johor after it was hit by the worst floods in a century that blocked major roads and disrupted trains to Singapore.

A police officer from Johor Bahru said more than 26,000 people in eight districts in the state have been moved into 163 reception centres set up in schools and public places situated on higher ground. Teams of police, firefighters and volunteers were searching for survivors who may be trapped in their homes.

Two days of heavy monsoon rains caused main rivers to overflow, flooding cities and villages, including the capital of Johor Bahru state. The Drainage and Irrigation Department records, quoted by the New Straits Times, showed that such heavy rains in Johor last occurred about 100 years ago. Photographs of places stricken by the disaster showed villages with only the zinc roofs of submerged homes visible above muddy floodwaters. Yesterday the Malaysian railway company KTM Berhad suspended direct train services to Singapore indefinitely after parts of the track were hit by minor landslides and some stations were flooded.

This morning the rains diminished but meteorologists predicted lighter rainfall would alternate with heavier downpours until Friday.

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