111 Malaysians killed in road crashes amid week

Road accidents claimed 111 lives during a weeklong exodus of Malaysians traveling to join friends and relatives ahead of key Muslim and Chinese festivals. About 1,000 accidents per day have been recorded nationwide since Jan. 23, when police launched a road safety campaign prior to this week's celebrations of the Chinese Lunar New Year and Awal Muharram, the start of the Islamic new year, according to police statistics.

About 60 percent of Malaysia's 26 million people are ethnic Malay Muslims. Ethnic Chinese, mainly Buddhists and Christians, are the largest minority, comprising a quarter of the population.

Motorcyclists accounted for most of the casualties recorded between Jan. 23-29, the federal traffic police bureau said in a statement. Millions of Malaysians have left Kuala Lumpur and other major cities in recent days as government offices and businesses take an extended break for the Lunar New Year, which began Sunday, and Awal Muharram, which begins this Tuesday.

Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has urged Malaysians to be more cautious while driving. Nearly 4,000 police personnel patrolling the country's roadways have issued 73,558 fines to motorists for various traffic offenses over the past week, reports the AP. I.L.

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