Boy dies as Sabah floods worsen

KOTA KINABALU - The flood situation in Beaufort has taken a turn for the worse, with rising waters affecting more than 50,000 people and claiming another victim.

With more rainwater gushing into the low-lying district from the interior, which was inundated two days ago, the train service between Beaufort and Tenom has also been suspended since Thursday.

Many roads are still impassable to traffic in the district as well as in Sipitang, Papar, Tenom and Keningau.

Even though the rain had stopped yesterday, Sungai Padas still breached the 10m mark, its highest recorded level in more than 30 years.

Other districts that are as badly affected are Pitas, Kudat, Kota Marudu, Sandakan and Nabawan.

Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman, who visited the flood-hit districts yesterday, issued an "all out alert", instructing the authorities to assist victims.

"My advice to those affected, especially those who are being evacuated, is to obey the instructions issued by the authorities," he said, adding that the state government would extend aid to flood victims.

Musa, who was accompanied by Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim, was briefed on the flood situation by district officer Mohd Shaid Othman.

Till press time, Shaid said 800 people from 64 villages had been evacuated to four relief centres, while 18 roads were rendered impassable to traffic and 18 schools had to be closed.

Meanwhile, the floods claimed a second victim when an 8-year-old boy drowned in Malaysia yesterday. He was believed to have fallen from a bridge near his home in Kampung Lubak yesterday.

His body was later recovered by family members near the bridge and sent to the district hospital for post mortem.

Two days ago, a 2-year-old girl drowned after falling into floodwaters at a plantation in Kampung Mempikit in Keningau.

The girl, identified as Maisarah Bihar, was with her mother and seven others aboard a rescue boat when it overturned. All of the passengers, except for the victim, were later saved.

In Kampung Jempangah, villagers were forced to pile their belongings on a railroad track, which was built on higher ground.

Norzera Karmila Kamidi, 26, said the track was the only option available to the villagers if they wished to save their belongings, as it was higher than their homes.

The track also served as their rescue-point while waiting for help to arrive.

Kampung Tuhu resident Masnan Okrih said about 200 villagers were affected as their houses had been inundated since Thursday.

"Many of us own boats, which are used for emergencies. At the moment, many villagers have been evacuated, but some are still staying on to look after their belongings," said Masnan.

In Tenom, the floodwaters have receded, but 2,265 villagers are still being housed at 18 relief centres.

A Kota Kinabalu Fire and Rescue Department spokesman said 285 flood victims in the Keningau district had been evacuated, with 233 of them placed at the SK Pekan 2 relief centre, while the remainder took shelter with their relatives.

In Keningau, Sabah Electricity Sdn Bhd (SESB) said it activated its flood operations rooms in Beaufort, Keningau, Tenom and Sipitang beginning Feb 13 following the floods.

Its senior general manager (asset management), Muhamad Nazri Pazil, said the operations rooms would be open 24 hours a day to monitor and report on the status of floods, as well as coordinate supply recovery works in the affected areas.

"For the safety of our consumers, we have to temporarily shut down the electricity supply when SESB substations were flooded in several areas in Beaufort and Tenom."

Nazri advised consumers to be careful when operating electrical equipment and not to go near any electrical installations during the floods. He said almost 2,500 registered SESB users had no access to electricity since last night because of the floods.

Nazri advised consumers to call the SESB hotline at 15454 or 088- 515000 to report disruptions in supply.

Additional reporting by Avila Geraldine and Mohd Nazllie Zainul.