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Their only lifeline: Residents affected by the floods in Jelebu, Negri Sembilan, waiting for aid from rescue agencies on boats since the downpour damaged the bridge to their homes in Kampung Bemban. — Bernama

KUALA LUMPUR: All agencies involved in flood relief operations have been directed to hold daily press conferences to give the people timely and accurate updates on the disaster, says Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob.

The Prime Minister said the Ops Banjir press conference would ensure that the people have the latest information on the flood situation and the preparations needed to face any disaster.

“The people need to have the latest information which is clear and true on the current flood disaster that has hit several states,” he said in a Facebook post yesterday.

Following up in a Twitter post, Ismail Sabri said he had directed the National Disaster Management Agency (Nadma), the police, Fire and Rescue Department, and the Malaysian Armed Forces to give daily reports.

At 10am yesterday, Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Acryl Sani Abdullah Sani gave a press conference, followed by the Chief of Defence Forces Gen Tan Sri Affendi Buang at noon, before Fire and Rescue Department director-general Datuk Seri Mohammad Hamdan Wahid spoke at 2pm, while Nadma director-general Datuk Dr Aminuddin Hassim summarised the situation at 4pm.

“I am confident that these reports can give a clear picture on the latest situation regarding the (flood) disaster in the country,” said Ismail Sabri, who added that all government frontliners involved in managing the disaster should always be at their highest level of preparedness.

In his media briefing at Taman Sri Muda, Shah Alam, Acryl Sani explained that evacuation of flood victims in Selangor, in particular Shah Alam, was significantly different from similar operations in east coast states of the peninsula.

“Most of the victims here are living in terrace houses and apartments with a higher population density compared to Kelantan, Pahang and Terengganu.

“The evacuation of flood victims in those east coast states are easy due to the location, with lower population density. Here, the population density is higher and this is a huge challenge for us,” he said.

Nevertheless, Acryl Sani said the coordination among all rescue agencies, including the police, had been quickly improved and more assets mobilised to rescue the victims in Taman Sri Muda.

He added that a total of 66,015 security forces personnel from various agencies have been mobilised to seven flood-hit states, namely Selangor, Kuala Lumpur, Pahang, Perak, Melaka, Kelantan, and Negri Sembilan.

He said police personnel would also be stationed at all temporary relief centres to help flood victims manually lodge their reports on the disaster or on criminal cases.

“At the same time, police assets would also be deployed to find and help those who are still stranded or chose to stay at their flooded homes to lodge reports,” he said.

He said seven reports on break-ins have been received involving business premises in Selangor so far, and the police had also detained a tow truck driver to facilitate investigations into the theft of flood victims’ cars.

Acryl Sani also expressed appreciation and gratitude to all quarters, including non-governmental organisations and volunteers, who had spent their money, time and energy to help those affected by floods that have hit several states since Dec 17.

“We (the police) truly appreciate the efforts and contributions they made without asking for recognition. They are the real unsung heroes,” he added.

In his update, Affendi said the Malaysian Armed Forces is now focusing on assisting flood victims in Pahang, Selangor and Kelantan, which are the most badly affected states.

He said the focus is on states with more than 1,000 flood victims, as well as Pahang, which had had an increase in locations affected by floods.

“For the time being, the situation in Perak, Kuala Lumpur, Negri Sembilan and Melaka is still under control,” he said in his Ops Banjir media conference, also at Taman Sri Muda.

Affendi added that each state has one company – comprising five officers and 97 personnel – on standby for deployment at locations affected by floods when the need arises.

He also appealed for greater understanding, adding that now is not the time for any party to pin blame on others as it could affect evacuation work.

“Addressing all shortcomings related to the flood management is the joint duty of the various agencies, which should seek to improve operations in future.

“Shortcomings are bound to occur even for a country like the United States, but we have improved since the first day (of the floods).

“The point is we have to work together to overcame challenges during flood operations as the priority is to save lives.

“We cannot afford to work in silos, as any effort will be more effective only if we use the ‘whole-of-government’ approach,” he added.

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