Flooding in northern Malaysia has left at least five people dead and more than 20,000 people homeless, reports said Monday, while officials warned the region could be hit by a tropical storm this week. A 69-year-old man who refused to be evacuated from his home was found drowned Monday in Malaysia's northernmost Perlis state, where 4,500 people have been sent to relief centers, the national news agency Bernama reported.
Meanwhile, authorities were searching for four missing rescue workers swept away by strong currents after their boat capsized Monday while they were conducting patrols in Kedah state.
Casualties over the weekend included a disabled 22-year-old woman who drowned in Terengganu state and a 23-year-old man and another unidentified man who died in separate incidents in Kelantan state on Saturday, the Utusan Malaysia Malay-language daily said. The New Straits Times newspaper reported that a five-year-old boy was swept away from his father's car in Kelantan on Sunday. His body was found in a rice field some distance away. About 5,900 people were rescued and sent to relief centers in Kelantan and Terengganu. In Kedah, some 10,900 people had been evacuated from their homes by Monday morning, and key roads and a major highway lay under some 1.5 meters (5 feet) of water in some places. Flood relief officials were not immediately reachable for further details. Newspaper photographs showed village homes almost submerged, with only zinc roofs showing above the water.
Northern Malaysian states suffer floods almost every year during the monsoon season between November and March.
Also Monday, the Meteorological Department warned of a tropical depression over the South China Sea that could turn into a tropical storm over Terengganu and Kelantan in the coming days.
"Although the depression appears to be slowly moving toward Vietnam, we are still monitoring the situation," Zaridah Mohamad Jalal, the department's central forecast office deputy director, told The Associated Press, reports the AP. I.L.