Floods in Pahang and Sarwak, Malaysia

There have been 2 reports of recent flooding in Malaysia. On 26 November, there were flash floods in Kampung Long Busang in Sarawak, affecting an estimated 513 people from around 70 or more families from the village, which is so remote it takes an 8 hour boat ride upstream of the Bakun dam to get there. Homes and a primary school were damaged in the floods.

Today 2 December, there have been reports of a flood in the Rompin district of Pahang. Around 100 people from the village of Kampung Kesing Orang Asli had to be evacuated after heavy rainfall caused flash floods, with flood water of around 1 meter inundating homes and buildings. Roads have also been flooded and many in the area have been closed. The police and emergency are currently assessing the situation.

As for the floods in the remote village of Kampung Long Busang in Sarawak last month, there have been some accusations that the Bakun Dam was at fault and that the flood gates had been opened to ease pressure on the dam. The CEO of Sarawak Hidro, Zulkifle Osman, who manage the Bakun dam, was eager to dismiss the possibility that the dam was at fault, claiming the level of the dam was below its maximum of 228 meters (on 26 November it stood at 225 meters). Zulkifle believes the flash floods in Kampung Long Busang were a result of heavy rainfall.

Bakun Dam
Bakun Dam under contruction 2009. Photo: Mohamad Shoox

The responsibility of hydro companies and the management of dams is particularly sensitive in Malaysia after the Lake Ringlet disaster in the Cameron Highlands, where four people died in October 2013.

Fortunately for the villagers, the flood waters receding fairly quickly, despite being as high as some of the roofs of the village buildings. The destruction caused by the flood could well mean that the school building is unusable for some time. The village suffered a similar flood in 2008.

This region of Southeast Asia in general is currently suffering from a spate of severe floods. Also on the Malaysian Peninsula, warnings of floods have been issued in southern Thailand, despite the area already suffering several days of flooding last month. Heavy rainfall in Brastagi district, Karo Regency, North Sumatra, Indonesia, resulted in landslides and the deaths of 9 people on 30 November 2013.

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Sources: The Malay Online; Borneo Post