A “mini tsunami” hit the town of Kampung Setoi, situated at the foot of Mount Jerai in Yan, Kedah. 3 deaths and 3 missing persons were reported after the incident and villagers were horrified at the scale of events.
“I grew up in this village and this is the first time I’ve seen such an incident. The upstream water rush has happened before but not to such an extent until the bridges and roads collapsed, cars washed away and people dying… I am very scared,” said Salwa Md Isa, resident of Kampung Setoi.
Salwa said the flooding happened at 5pm yesterday and the water took two and a half hours to recede, destroying everything in its path.
Fellow villager Mohd Nasir Shuib, who found the body of one of the victims, believes that the perpetual heavy rain that occurred at the peak of the mountain had caused water to accumulate and eventually overflow and pour down to the foot of the mountain.
“The water flowed so fast that all the logs were washed away until my house and my neighbour’s were inundated.”
He is not the first to mention the recent loggings in its crucial part to this incident.
“Many mirrors and building structures were also broken due to being hit by the washed away logs,” said Jaafar Man, who has operated the Kenari Nature Park Camp in Titi Hayun for 21 years.
Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM) president Meenakshi Raman said the Yan area had been prone to flooding but yesterday’s flood intensity and area affected were “historic”.
“The mud coming down was an indication that there had been massive development in the area. No floodwater will be mud-coloured if there was no felling of trees and wanton clearing of land. If the area is forested, you would not get ‘teh tarik’. This is a sign from Mother Nature.”
Meenakshi said the state government must explain if there had been felling of trees on the hills or if a quarry operating there could have caused the mud floods. She said all development activities should be halted temporarily to check compliance with the Yan district local plan.
SAM and local residents had reportedly taken the Kedah government to court over the legality of an earth quarry several years ago but the courts had decided against them. Meenakshi urges that an audit of all land clearing in the area should be made public.
On the other hand, Kedah Menteri Besar Muhammad Sanusi Md Nor has denied allegations that the floods were caused by logging activities. He said the floods were actually due to water surges from the waterfall areas at the foot of the mountain area.
“There are no logging activities around Gunung Jerai because the area has been gazetted as a forest reserve,” he said.
Since the incident, netizens shared posts of the damage, including a video from three days earlier indicating early warning signs.
— Lin_Lin (@LinLinPartyBebe) August 18, 2021
Keadaan atas gunung jerai lani, Harap harap hujan sereyat la secepat mungkin pic.twitter.com/TpDUQlJXsS
— mana saya tahu, saya kan udang. (@zahrzikri) August 18, 2021
Kejadian kepala air akibat hujan lebat di Yan Kedah dan sekitar air terjun titi hayun harini. Kita doakan agar tiada jiwa yang terkorban. pic.twitter.com/1GVg7KbLcA
— (@EncikYone) August 18, 2021
[TEMBAKAN DOA BUAT RAKYAT KEDAH]
Banjir kilat melanda Yan, Kedah selepas hujan lebat petang semalam.
— GAMIS Official (@GamisMalaysia) August 18, 2021
The Malaysian Meteorological Department (MetMalaysia) has issued a weather warning, with heavy rain expected today and Friday, in Kedah, Penang and Perak.
Careful, folks. Sweater weather might be all nice and cozy, but it’s also detrimental to the livelihoods of many.