Water crisis as drought dries up Malaysia

Natural disaster officials in the Malaysian state of Negeri Sembilan will begin to supply treated water to 8000 households, where taps have run dry.

A Malaysian state has declared a water crisis because of a dry spell that has parched much of the usually rain-bathed country.

Deputy water minister Mahdzir Khalid warned on Tuesday the government was planning to carry out cloud seeding over the capital, Kuala Lumpur, and its surroundings, where water reserve levels have been critical since last week.

Negeri Sembilan, just south of Kuala Lumpur, declared a "state of crisis" on Wednesday. The central state shares its water supply with the capital and another state, Selangor, which is the country's main economic engine.

"We have not had any rain here over the past two months, and this has caused water levels at our seven dams to reach critical levels," Negeri Sembilan chief minister Mohamad Hasan was quoted by The Star as saying.

Natural disaster officials in the state will begin to supply treated water to about 8000 households, where taps have run dry, he said, adding the dams had not been able to draw water from at least two rivers feeding them.

The meteorological department denies Malaysia is in the midst of an unusually dry spell, insisting that warm and dry weather is normal during the first two months of the year.

But some consumers in Kuala Lumpur and Selangor have already experienced water rationing, and reservoirs in the area are reported to be half-empty.

The hot spell has also contributed to the increase in dengue fever cases, as it speeds up the life cycle of the aedes mosquito, which carries the virus, and enhances replication of the pathogen.

Deaths from the flu-like illness - which the World Health Organisation calls one of the fastest-growing viral threats, especially in the tropics - have nearly tripled to 22 during the first five weeks of 2014, compared with eight during the same period in 2013.

The 11,879 reported cases in the year to date are nearly a fourfold increase in the illness, which is marked by symptoms such as severe muscle and joint pain, and in severe cases internal bleeding, organ impairment, respiratory distress and death.

Source: AAP