Floods hit south Sarawak


KUCHING: Some 7,000 people from 61 villages in Kuching and Samarahan Divisions have been evacuated from their homes after floods hit the southern parts of Sarawak since Tuesday. 

The floods are said to be the worst in 50 years.  

Among those at temporary evacuation centres were more than 2,000 villagers each from Batu Kawa on the outskirts of the city and from gold-rich Bau. 

The worst-hit areas included Kampung Segedup in Batu Kawa and Taman Maliha in Matang, said an official of the state disaster relief operation centre yesterday. 

Other badly affected areas were Kampung Sinar Budi, Kampung Rantau Panjang, Batu Kitang and Siniawan. 

RISING WATERS: Pupils of SK Batu Lintang having fun as they try to clear away the floodwaters outside their classrooms Wednesday. The school was ordered closed.

He said some areas were under more than 3m of water. 

Several stretches along both the old and new Kuching-Bau roads were impassable to all traffic. 

Some reporters sent to cover the floods in Bau on Tuesday were stranded there as of noon yesterday. 

“The overall flood situation remains more or less the same as yesterday (Tuesday),” he added. 

Heavy rain had caused landslides along several major roads, including the Kuching-Serian road and Jalan Bako here. 

In Serian district, many families returning here from central Sarawak after the Chinese New Year celebrations were stranded for three to four hours on Tuesday night as several sections of the Pan Borneo Highway were under more than 1m of water. 

Villagers helped to push stalled motor vehicles, and some of the affected families had to camp in their cars for the night. 

A number of schools in Kuching and Samarahan Divisions affected by the floods were closed yesterday, although they were supposed to reopen after the long Chinese New Year holidays.  

Many residents in the Sungai Maong areas, off Green Road here, were stranded at home and could not report to work yesterday.  

Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr George Chan Hong Nam said the flood situation had reached a critical level, and he advised villagers living in low-lying areas to evacuate quickly if the situation warranted it. 

Dr Chan, who is also state Disaster and Relief Committee chairman, has warned that the flood situation might worsen with the onset of the king tide.  

But the worst might be over as the weather in southern Sarawak was expected to improve in the next 24 to 48 hours. 

A state Meteorological Services Department official said: “We do not expect any more continuous heavy rain but there will be intermittent rain. It should be over by Friday.”  

The official said the rainfall here and in Bau and Samarahan Division in the past two days was higher than normal but not exceptionally high. 

He said the downpour was a contributing factor to the floods and this coincided with the king tide. 

Flash floods experienced in several parts of the city have exposed the weaknesses of the drainage system.  

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