Floods are common on the eastern coast of Malaysia during the annual monsoon season between October and March, but unusually heavy rainfall that started on Friday has put a strain on emergency services across the country.
Videos on social media showed overflowing rivers, landslides, and cars submerged on abandoned streets.
Malaysia has mobilized its army and other security agencies across seven states, with the worst flooding in Selangor, the country’s wealthiest and most populous region.
Selangor police reported eight people found dead in the floods on Monday, according to state news agency Bernama.
They include four in Taman Sri Muda, a neighbourhood in the district of Shah Alam, where many people are still believed to be trapped in homes and apartment buildings as rescue efforts were hampered by a lack of boats and manpower.
It is unclear how many more remain to be rescued with communication lines cut off in many parts of Selangor.
More than 41,000 people across the affected states were displaced by the flooding, and ten are reported missing, including a six-year-old child, Bernama reported.
Of those displaced, more than 19,000 are from hard-hit Pahang state, which neighbors Selangor. The evacuees are being housed in hundreds of relief centers across the country, with the government’s emergency agencies coordinating to provide aid to flood victims.
Among those rescued are roughly 450 motorists who were stranded along a stretch of highway since Saturday, according to Bernama. They were rescued in stages using boats.
Opposition lawmakers on Monday lambasted authorities for the delay in response.
“Tonight will be the third night, people are still screaming for boats,” lawmaker Hannah Yeoh of the Democratic Action Party told reporters in parliament.
“We want (the government) to activate assistance immediately so that we no longer find bodies.”
On Sunday, Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob announced $ 23 million in aid for post-flood recovery efforts, adding, “Rainfall like this happens only once in a 100 years.”
In another statement on Monday, he said he had ordered all agencies to conduct “more aggressive” operations to help those affected in Taman Sri Muda.
Taman Sri Muda resident Sazuatu Remly, 43, and her family were rescued by friends on Monday, after being trapped in their home for more than two days.
“Help from the government never came for us, we only got help from the parents of the children I was taking care of,” she told Reuters.
“I really hope authorities can act more quickly, and they give more attention to the people here.”