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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Flood Evacuees in Malaysia's Southern State Top 100,000

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia -- More than 100,000 people have been evacuated in southern Malaysia to escape massive flooding, which has raised the specter of water and mosquito-borne diseases, officials and news reports said Monday.

The government was close to imposing a state of emergency in Johor state, where heavy rains triggered a new wave of flooding after a previous deluge in December -- the worst in a century -- killed at least 17 people.

No casualties have been reported in the latest floods, caused by heavy rains that began last Friday and continued for almost 72 hours.

Several relief centers in the hardest-hit Kota Tinggi area are overcrowded and cannot take in any more evacuees, an official at the Johor flood operations center said on condition of anonymity, as he was not authorized to speak to the media. "We need donations of food. Some [relief] centers have no more space already," the official said. "Blankets and warm clothing are also needed."

The town is cut off, with floodwaters as high as four meters engulfing houses and gas stations and blocking roads, the New Straits Times newspaper said.

The Education Ministry on Monday suspended classes at all 106 schools in Johor, which borders Singapore, and converted some of the schools into flood relief centers, national news agency Bernama said.

Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi estimated losses at more than 100 million ringgit ($28.5 million).

The operations center official said there were currently about 110,000 flood victims in more than 300 relief centers in Johor, and officials were on alert for the spread of diseases that can easily spread in the brown, murky water.

On Jan. 6, two people died in Johor Baharu from leptospirosis, a disease borne by water contaminated by the urine of rats.