Tourists stranded as monsoon floods hit Malaysian jungle

Malaysian authorities launched a major rescue operation Wednesday to evacuate tourists stranded at a resort by heavy monsoon flooding that has forced tens of thousands of residents to abandon their homes.

AFP| Last Updated: Dec 24, 2014, 16:39 PM IST

Kuala Lumpur: Malaysian authorities launched a major rescue operation Wednesday to evacuate tourists stranded at a resort by heavy monsoon flooding that has forced tens of thousands of residents to abandon their homes.

Helicopters were being used in the ongoing operation to rescue people from the Mutiara Taman Negara Resort, which lies in the remote jungle of central Malaysia`s Taman Nagara national park, a local fire and rescue official told AFP.

Around 100 people were stranded at the resort, half of them thought to be foreign tourists from countries including France, Germany, Australia and Britain, according to state news agency Bernama.

Seasonal flooding hits Malaysia every year and regularly forces authorities to evacuate tens of thousands of people.

Bernama said more than 60,000 people had been evacuated across six states in northern Malaysia since December 16, with four people killed in the floods.

Residents have been evacuated to more than 100 relief centres set up on higher ground, the news agency added.

There were no reports of casualties at the Mutiara Taman Negara Resort, which is located close to the swollen Sungai Tembeling river.

"They should have left today but the dangerous river has cut off the place from the outside world and we are running low on food," Bernama quoted a resort worker as saying.

Media access to the area was very limited, with phones connecting only intermittently.

The eco-resort is popular with tourists seeking to explore the pristine jungle of Taman Nagara, which stretches over more than 4,300 square kilometres (1,660 square miles).

The national park has been hit by some of the heaviest rainfall recorded in forty years, according to Bernama, with major rivers in the area reportedly swelling to dangerous levels.

Torrential downpours have wrecked havoc on local transport systems and communication lines, making it tougher for rescue workers to do their job.