Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said Friday he was cutting short his U.S. vacation to deal with the worst floods in the country in decades that have killed five people and displaced more than 100,000.
Authorities have evacuated numerous villages and towns in five Malaysian states that were inundated following unusually strong torrential rains. More than 105,000 people have sought shelter in schools, community halls and other relief centers, according to flood monitoring centers.
Najib has come under fire for going on holidays in Hawaii, where he was seen golfing with President Barack Obama. People have posted messages on his Facebook page, urging him to return home as the flooding worsened.
Najib said in a statement he will return on Saturday, heading straight to flood-ravaged Kelantan state to oversee response to the floods. Even on holiday, he said he was in constant touch with disaster and relief officials, who were doing all they can to help victims. He was originally scheduled to return Jan. 2.
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“I am deeply concerned by the floods. I feel for the people who have lost their homes, and the families who have lost loved ones,” he said. “I want to see the situation for myself and be with the people.”
The government says it was the worst flooding in more than 30 years, and on Friday ordered the deployment of more helicopters, boats and land vehicles.
Najib has said earlier bad weather and high floodwaters made it tough to transport displaced people and food supplies. Heavy rain was expected to continue until the weekend, the meteorological department said.
The five dead including a toddler who was swept away by strong currents after she fell from her mother’s arms while they were wading in waters on their way to a relief center.