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2004 Tsunami Crisis: Impact on Malaysia

The nation of Malaysia, which laid close the epicenter of the earthquake that generated the death-inducing tsunamis, was spared widespread destruction due being shielded by the Indonesian island of Sumatra.  The tsunami’s devastating effects were concentrated to the northern coastal areas near the island of Penang, where scores of people were swept from beaches.  Penang is popular with Western and Asian tourists, much like Phuket in Thailand, and hotels in the area are normally packed during the peak year-end holiday season.  At least 72 people are confirmed dead, of which are 6 were foreign tourists.   

The economic impact on Malaysia is likely to be negligible.  According to preliminary estimates within days of the tsunami, the cost of clearing up the damage is around $25 Million.  The Malaysian government has not requested any aid or debt relief.  Rather, Malaysia has been at the forefront among Southeast Asian countries in being the providers of aid to its neighbors, most notably Indonesia. 

Here are some of the tsunami-related stories coming out of the Malaysia:

- Media outlets in Malaysia have launched a Malaysian Tsunami Disaster Fund to assist Government efforts in rehabilitating and helping the thousands of victims affected by this tragedy.  The fund was initiated by the New Straits Times and Berita Harian newspapers, and joined by TV3 and 8TV.  The fund has so far raised a total of over 30 million Malaysian Ringgets.  

- Fortunately, Penang's water supply infrastructure, services and quality have not been affected by the tsunami triggered by the underwater earthquake near Sumatra, Indonesia.  Water supplies are continually being monitored but there is no expectation of any negative changes.  The three large dams that Penang maintains provide water too much of Northern Malaysia. 

- Following the heels of the tsunami disaster, Malaysia was once again affected by another natural disaster, this time on the other coast.  Eleven people are reported to have died and more than 10,000 have been evacuated after flooding hit the east coast of peninsula Malaysia.  The flooding is the worst in Malaysia in 40 years.  Heavy rain left towns and villages in the states of Kelantan, Terengganu and Pahang under up to 2m of water.  The city of Kota Baru has been one of the worst hit areas with five people dying after the Kelantan river burst its banks.  In the city, some 5,000 people are sheltering in government reception centers.  Weather forecasters are warning that the situation is likely to get worse as more heavy rain is expected.