December 13, 2007 / 1:39 AM / 12 years ago

Malaysia floods kill 12, more than 20,000 displaced

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - Floods in Malaysia have killed 12 people and left more than 20,000 homeless, and more rain is expected, which could push up food and palm oil prices in one of the world’s top growers.

The monsoon rains have cut off roads in several states including Kelantan and Terengganu in the east and Johor in the south, local media reported. The Meteorological Department has forecast more heavy rain.

Johor was the worst hit, with 13,000 residents fleeing to higher ground, the New Straits Times reported on Thursday. The state is a major oil palm and rubber growing region and a key source of vegetables and poultry.

Plantation officials say heavy rains have slowed down harvest and transportation of palm oil. Malaysia is one of the world’s largest producers of the edible oil, which is used in products ranging from shampoo and ice-cream to biofuels.

Some economists warn the floods could also drive up food prices, similar to the situation early this year when the country was hit by the worst floods in nearly 40 years.

Reporting by Liau Y-Sing; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani

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