Floods paralyse northern Malaysia, death toll rises to six

Flooding caused by monsoon storms spread in northern Malaysia, killing at least six people and forcing thousands of families to flee submerged villages, officials said Tuesday. Most of Malaysia's northwestern Perlis and Kedah states were inundated in what residents called the worst flooding to hit those states in 30 years. Some 25,000 evacuees have been sent to relief centers in Perlis, Kedah and two northeastern states that have also been hit by incessant rain. "Two-thirds of Perlis is flooded, and the situation has been made worse with floodwaters coming from southern Thailand," Perlis Chief Minister Shahidan Kassim told reporters. "The relief centers are flooded, my home is flooded. Everyone has been affected."

At least six people have drowned since Saturday. The latest casualty was a 6-year-old boy who fell into a rain-swollen river late Monday in northeastern Kelantan state, a fire department spokesman said on condition of anonymity because he is not allowed to speak publicly. Authorities closed Kedah's main airport after its runway was flooded Monday night.

Electricity was cut off in Kangar, the capital of Perlis, and train services were disrupted. Deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak, who visited flood-stricken areas Monday, said the government would provide financial aid to victims, especially farmers in Kedah and Perlis, where 28,000 hectares (70,000 acres) of rice fields have been damaged.

Peninsular Malaysia's northern states suffer floods most years during the monsoon season between November and March. But the northeastern states of Kelantan and Terengganu are usually more badly affected than the northwestern states, reports the AP. I.L.

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