KUCHING: Rescue teams have deployed boats and heavy trucks to flooded areas in Sibu to prepare for the evacuation of residents and help stranded villagers get to town to stock up on food.
State Assistant Minister for Public Health Dr Soon Choon Teck said the level of the Rajang River on Saturday night was one of the highest ever recorded owing to the large volume of water rushing down from Belaga, Kapit and Kanowit.
However, he added that as there had been no rain since Saturday, the floodwaters had started to recede yesterday morning.
Villagers in Tanjung Latap across the Rajang River in upper Lanang here and three longhouses in Pulau Dudong who were stranded in the floods have asked for the supply of food, and the Welfare Department has sent it to them, he said in a telephone interview from Sibu yesterday.
He had accompanied Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr George Chan Hong Nam, also state disaster and relief committee chairman, on a helicopter trip to assess the flood situation in central Sarawak on Saturday.
No villagers in Sibu have been evacuated yet but the floods have already claimed three lives.
Three-month-old Abang Mohd Hakim from Kampung Hilir drowned after falling into the flooded compound of his house on Friday while Lau Yi Sie, three, of Langsat Lane here, drowned on Saturday in the flooded compound of his grandmother's house in Sungai Paradom.
The body of Ting Chiong Lung, 74, was fished out from the Rajang River at 3pm yesterday, about a two-hour boat ride from here. Ting is believed to have slipped and fallen on Saturday night.
Kapit district officer Sebestian Sujang said some 230 villagers from Kampung Melayu Beledeh and Kampung Baru had been evacuated to relief centres while another 66 from the 10-door longhouse Rumah Jamba Belawai, located downstream from Kapit, had been evacuated to a forest camp.
The floodwaters dropped by about 1.3m at the Kapit wharf yesterday morning and were also receding in the flooded areas, he added.
Sujang said further improvement could be expected if there was no rain in the interior.
However, the Meteorological Services Department said yesterday that there would be intermittent rain or isolated showers in central Sarawak in the next 48 hours.
Dr Soon said that those living in low-lying areas should keep alert as king tides would occur later this week.
He advised parents not to let their children play in the floodwaters as some children had drowned in the floods which also hit Kuching, Samarahan and Mukah Divisions over a week ago.