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Wat-er trail of havoc
Published on: Thursday, January 16, 2014

Kota Kinabalu: The equivalent of a month's rain - 136.8mm - that fell within a day in the State capital since Tuesday caused myriad problems throughout the West Coast that affected not just locals but also tourists.

The heavy but intermittent downpour caused floods in many low-lying areas and landslides apart from uprooting trees, disrupting flights, closure of many schools and traffic snarls in many places.

Residents in the vicinity of the Babagon Dam which supplies water to much of the West Coast were also jolted when the siren was sounded to warn them about water overflows. Flashfloods affected thousands in Penampang, Kota Belud, Tuaran, Menggatal, Telipok, Inanam and Sipitang.

About 97 people were evacuated to the Kota Belud Community Hall after flooding affected nine villages. Sabah Meteorological Department Director Malik Tussin said the unusually heavy downpour was caused by a tropical depression off Southern Philippines.

"The prevailing northeast monsoon usually brings rain to the East Coast of Sabah. Instead, the rain fell in the West Coast areas," he said, adding the rainy season was nearing its end.

"The total rainfall for the Kota Kinabalu area is considered not normal in this month," said Malik, and that such unusual intermittent heavy rain is not expected to recur these few days.

The Fire and Rescue Department received a distress call as early as 4am in Kota Belud which saw the eventual evacuation of 97 people.

In Sipitang, water levels in Kg Pantai Lama, Kg Luagan, Kg Tg Nipis and Kg Bahagia and Kg Sungai Bubus reached three to eight feet.

The Tamparuli River also submerged the low-lying concrete bridge forcing hundreds of students and workers to use the suspension bridge on foot to get to the other side.

A resident, Michael Andrews, said this was the first time that water had submerged the bridge in 10 years. "Water also forced the local Tamu to move to higher ground," he said.

A road collapsed in Kiulu on Tuesday night stranding some 40,000 people from about 50 villages. A group of international students and teachers from Vietnam also had to cut short their adventure camping trip to Kiulu after being told to evacuate.

"They were various nationals - British, American and others - who were here since Jan. 13," said tour operator, Malaya Meran.

Kiulu Assemblyman, Datuk Joniston Bangkuai, was at the scene since 9am to ensure mitigation work was done by the contractors.

He said villagers for the time being have to use the alternative route leading to Telipok to reach their destination. "This is the only main road to the city. But now they have to use the other road," he said.

A landslide also caused traffic to come to a halt along Km 48 Penampang-Tambunan trunk road. However according to Penampang District Officer William Sampil, residents could pass the area by 4pm Wednesday.

The heavy rain caused flash floods in few housing parks and villages in the district.

Water stagnant on roads heading into residential areas like in Taman Kasigui and Kg Kibabaig made the roads impassable.

As a result, residents could not leave their houses to fetch their schoolchildren.

At the Dah Yeh Villa housing in Likas, a huge tree fell and damaged a portion of a terrace house roof causing its 60-year-old owner to incur losses amounting to RM15,000.

She told Daily Express that she saw the tree fall on the left side of her house at 8.30am while she was cleaning the windows.

The incident also damaged electrical wiring on her house and her neighbour's. On Tuesday at 9pm, a 30-year-old man who drove a 4WD Mitsubishi vehicle lost control of the wheel and hit a tree before landing on the roadside near the Foochow hall heading to Bukit Padang area.

The driver was heading from Luyang to Bukit Padang when the mishap occurred during heavy rain. He escaped injuries.

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