At least eight people have died in floods that have ravaged Malaysia, authorities have said, as the government faced criticism from the public and opposition lawmakers over its rescue efforts.
Floods are common on the eastern coast of Malaysia during the annual monsoon season between October and March, but unusually heavy rainfall that started on Friday has put a strain on emergency services across the country.
Malaysia has mobilised its army and other security agencies across seven states, with heavy flooding in Selangor, the country’s wealthiest and most populous region.
Selangor police reported eight people found dead in the floods on Monday, according to state news agency Bernama.
They include four in Taman Sri Muda, a neighbourhood in the district of Shah Alam, where many people are still believed to be trapped in homes and apartment buildings as rescue efforts were hampered by a lack of boats and manpower.
The number of evacuees across the country rose to about 51,000 on Monday, according to official data, with the worst-hit area being the eastern state of Pahang, where some 32,000 were forced from their homes.
But it is unclear how many more remain to be rescued with communication lines cut off in many parts of the state.
The country’s wealthiest and most populous state Selangor, surrounding the capital Kuala Lumpur, has been badly affected – which is unusual as it typically avoids the worst of the monsoon floods.
Opposition lawmakers on Monday lambasted authorities for the delay in response.
“Tonight will be the third night, people are still screaming for boats,” lawmaker Hannah Yeoh of the Democratic Action Party told reporters in parliament.
“We want (the government) to activate assistance immediately so that we no longer find bodies.”
Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob said in a statement on Monday he had ordered all agencies to conduct “more aggressive” operations to help those affected in Taman Sri Muda.
Taman Sri Muda resident Sazuatu Remly, 43, and her family were rescued by friends on Monday, after being trapped in their home for more than two days.
“Help from the government never came for us, we only got help from the parents of the children I was taking care of,” she told the Reuters news agency.
“I really hope authorities can act more quickly, and they give more attention to the people here.”
The Southeast Asian nation is hit by floods annually during the monsoon season, but those on the weekend were the worst in years.
Global warming has been linked to worsening floods. Because a warmer atmosphere holds more water, climate change increases the risk and intensity of flooding from extreme rainfall.