KUALA LUMPUR - MALAYSIAN authorities have shut schools and evacuated more than 12,000 people as floodwaters rise in two northern states hit by torrential rain, official media said on Tuesday.

In Perlis state, which borders Thailand, 11 schools were shut and 3,000 evacuees were taking shelter in relief centres, state news agency Bernama said.

Several roads were blocked and public buildings including a hospital were flooded, it said, as local residents scrambled to shift their belongings to dry land.

In neighbouring Kedah state, some 9,264 residents were shifted out of affected areas, and housed in 39 relief centres. Bernama cited local emergency authorities as saying that several rivers in Kedah had risen above the danger level.

In Thailand heavy flooding has already left more than 100 people dead, mostly in the central and eastern areas. On Tuesday flash floods up to several metres deep swept through the city of Hat Yai in the south, stranding about 100,000 residents, officials said.

Thai authorities estimate that almost six million people have been affected, with homes submerged and farmland or cattle destroyed. Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has described the floods as 'a huge natural calamity'.

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