Worry over 'woody debris' in Sungai Telemong

BENTONG: The presence of mass wood debris, which was said to have blocked the flow of Sungai Telemong near Karak and triggered the major floods on Dec 18, has raised eyebrows.

Checks at the scene saw both sides of the river covered with wood debris all the way towards the concrete bridge where 16 people were reported to have been swept away by a water column that day.

The debris, which caused the river to become narrow, had clogged the water flow resulting in the nearby settlements to be completely submerged in what was described as the worst floods in the area since decades.

It had also damaged houses along the riverbank and the logs flowed downstream for several kilometers till Kampung Tanjung near Karak town.

Sabai assemblyman D. Kamache said the presence of the wood debris in the river has raised a lot of questions because floods in the area were usually caused by continuous rain.

“My question is where did these logs or wood debris in Telemong river come from?…How did it end up there. The authorities need to investigate and explain the truth to the people.

“Everyone is aware about the usual floods but this one incident at Telemong, with tonnes of washed up wood and debris, resulting in houses being covered with thick mud…this is unusual,” she said when contacted.

Meanwhile, a villager at Kampung Seri Telemong said the unusual flooding in Telemong left the entire area in a mess as the path of the river had been blocked by debris.

He said the wood debris in the river has caused the riverbank to become narrow and the river, which is now covered in mud, has become shallow.

“Major soil erosion has occurred along the riverbank between Karak town and Telemong…it is getting closer to the main road. Future heavy downpour lasting several hours might trigger major flooding and cause the mud to spill over the narrow roads.

“The authorities must set up an independent body to investigate if unregulated land clearing, logging or farming activities had resulted in the mess in Sungai Telemong. The water has receded and what will happen to all the debris now,” he said.

Meanwhile, a private chalet operator along Jalan Karak-Manchis said the recent floods had caused some concern among visitors who would usually visit the durian orchards during the fruit season.

“The Karak-Kuala Pilah stretch has a lot of chalets but the recent incident might result in a drop in business. The roads and hilly slopes are affected by the heavy rain,” he said.

The water column incident at Kampung Seri Telemong here on Dec 18 saw 10 people rescued alive while five dead and another still missing.

© New Straits Times Press (M) Bhd

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