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Record rainfall hits Penang, Malaysia, 7 dead in its worst flooding in history

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At least 7 people have died and over 10 000 were forced to evacuate after severe flooding hit Penang and Kedah, Malaysia over the weekend. Authorities described flooding in Penang as the worst in state's history.

Kepala Batas in Penang measured 946 mm (37.24 inches) of rain between November 3 and 6, 2017, with 458 mm (18.03 inches) in just 24 hours to November 6. Penang's previous record was 270 mm (10.62 inches) set on September 15, 2017.

As many as 7 412 people have been forced from their homes in Penang, the Floodlist reported. The displaced are staying in 41 emergency centers set up by authorities. In the neighboring state of Kedah, 3 839 people have evacuated their homes and are staying in 23 relief centers. 

Penang Chief Minister of Penang described the flooding and storm as the worst in Penang’s history and said the storm was part of a weather system brought by Typhoon "Damrey." Damrey hit Vietnam on November 4, leaving at least 49 people dead and 116 000  properties submerged or damaged.

The capital George Town was awash with muddy brown water, as frantic residents rushed to salvage their belongings in the wee hours of the morning.

"The situation has become more critical. Water is still rising, the wind is still strong, and waters are up to 3 to 4 m (10 to 12 feet), above roofs in Penang island," Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said in a Facebook post yesterday, shortly after calling Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi for help at 3.30am."

The flooding in Penang is seen as Malaysia's worst since prolonged storms hit northern and eastern states from December 2014 to January 2015, claiming 21 lives and displacing up to 200 000 people, most of whom were from Kelantan and Terengganu.

The Penang government confirmed on Sunday afternoon that the floods was due to the poor drainage system. Penang's Traffic Management and Flood Mitigation Committee chairman Chow Kon Yeow told media that the existing drainage system could not accommodate the huge flow of water during heavy rain.

Featured image: Penang floods, November 2017

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