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Floods in Sarawak may worsen

KUCHING, 12 Jan 2009: Floods in Sarawak may worsen today if rain continues to fall in the upper reaches of Sungai Sarawak and coincides with the high tide occurring at about 7pm, Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr George Chan Hong Nam said.

He said if the situation prevailed, more areas would be inundated, especially in the state’s central region, comprising the Sibu, Bintulu, Kuching, Samarahan and Sri Aman divisions.

He said so far, 9,587 residents from 1,474 families have been evacuated to 37 relief centres in the state, from 3,773 people (629 families) yesterday.

“The Kuching division recorded 8,223 evacuees (1,215 families), who are mostly from areas in Bau and Kuching,” he told reporters after chairing a meeting on the flood situation at the state disaster operations room here today.

Dr Chan said although rainfall in Kuching today was about 2mm, the volume of water in the catchment areas of Sungai Sarawak Kanan and Sungai Sarawak Kiri was still high and could endanger residents in low-lying areas.

He said the floods in the state had so far damaged three houses in Kampung Pasir, near Santubong.

State education director Dr Julaihi Bujang said so far, 104 schools, including 10 secondary schools, were closed due to the floods.

In SIBU, four schools – the Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan (SMK) Bandar Sibu, SMK Upper Lanang, Sekolah Kebangsaa (SK) Su Lai and SK Kampung Bahagia Jaya – are closed due to the floods.

Environment and Public Health Minister Datuk Seri Wong Soon Koh, who earlier chaired a meeting to discuss the flood situation here today, said Sibu recorded very high rainfall over the past two days.

“The Drainage and Irrigation Department recorded 280mm of rain during the two days, which is very abnormal, when the normal rainfall is less than 20mm a day,” he added.

He said it was fortunate that there was no heavy rain in the upper reaches of the Rajang River in places like Kapit or Belaga or Song to aggravate the situation.

Wong said although a few areas like the Seduan basin here and in Stapang and Selangu were also hit by the floods, there has been no evacuations so far.

He said the government has taken steps for any eventuality, including having round-the-clock monitoring, as the king tide, measuring 3.7m is expected to occur between 10.30pm and 11pm for three nights, beginning tonight.

He said a 24-hour operation room had been activated at the Sri Rajang Rest House, while rescue workers with boats and heavy vehicles had been put on standby.

Those who need assistance can call 084-315 024, 084-314 973 and 084-332 834 any time, he said. — Bernama


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