Sarawak, hit by a second wave of floods, could have its first fatality when a youth was reported missing late last night while crossing a river.
He is for now presumed drowned.
The 20-year-old Bidayuh from Kampung Pancor, was said to have been swept away by swift current while attempting to cross a swollen river with a friend in neighbouring Kampung Maan, about 39km from Kuching city, at around 9pm.
His friend survived the ordeal by clinging onto a tree branch until he was rescued by a joint Fire and Rescue Department and Civil Defence Department search and rescue (SAR) team an hour later.
The 11-man SAR team, in the hope that the missing youth, identified as Junus, could also be clinging onto some tree branches, conducted a search along the river for over an hour but called it off just past midnight due to poor light and the danger posed by the swift waters.
The search for the youth would continue today.
As at 8am today, 2,869 people in Kuching and Samarahan divisions had been forced out of their homes and into relief centres as two days of heavy rain coupled with the seasonal spring “king tide” flooded the southern tip of the state.
The number could rise in this “Chap Goh Mei flood” as more rain had been forecast and the king tide would only end on February 27.
A total of 22 relief centres had been opened – 17 in the Kuching division and five in the Samarahan division.
The most hard hit areas are the Kuching, Bau, Padawan, Serian and Samarahan districts.
For the Malay villagers of Kampung Batu Kitang Lama in Bau district of Kuching, their relief centre is the home of a neighbour known as Makcik Piah.
Yesterday, 143 people from 29 families have moved back into Makcik Piah’s home just like they did during the Chinese New Year flood two weeks ago.
For this Malay village, on the banks of the Sarawak River, flood is almost an annual event.