Broken dam contributed to Penang floods, says minister

A flooded Perak Road in George Town November 5, 2017. — Picture by KE Ooi
A flooded Perak Road in George Town November 5, 2017. — Picture by KE Ooi

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KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 7 ― A broken dam was among the factors behind the deadly floods in Penang besides abnormal weather, a minister said today.

Urban Wellbeing, Housing and Local Government Minister Tan Sri Noh Omar, however, did not specify which dam and how the water flowed into Penang.

“Yes it is true that that the flood problem is prevalent in the East Coast, and our preparations are more focused for the East Coast.

“However in Penang, we were told that things were truly unexpected, and in the briefing given to me yesterday, there was a case of broken dam which caused water from outside of Penang to also enter into Penang,” Noh said during the Minister's Question Time (MQT) in Parliament today.

Noh also advised states to be more responsible when managing green lungs and hillslopes as well as drainage systems. He told states to be cautious if certain dams were identified to have the potential to cause floods, urging the respective administrations to take immediate action to rectify the problems.

Noh was responding to an additional question from Barisan Nasional's (BN) Bagan Serai MP, Datuk Dr Noor Azmi Ghazali, who had asked him to state if there were other factors at play, such as deforestation and hill-cutting in Penang, that contributed to the flood over the weekend.

The massive floods were touted as the worst ever in Penang's history.

In his answer, Noh also expressed disappointment over some residents who had refused to evacuate their homes, during the flood.

“However, one thing that saddens us is when some people, when the fire and rescue team advised them to evacuate immediately, some refused to follow orders.

“I was informed by the Penang fire and rescue brigade director during a briefing, that one of the victims who died was asked to leave his home, but the victim insisted on staying in the house,” Noh said.

Earlier today, national newswire Bernama reported that the number of flood victims in Penang has dropped to 6,080 comprising 1,572 families as of this morning, from 6,243 involving 1,588 families last night.

A police flood operations room spokesman was quoted telling the agency that the Seberang Perai Utara district recorded the highest number, at 3,955 comprising 965 families.

The flood has claimed seven lives to date.

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