Popular social networking site Facebook has activated its safety check function in the wake of massive Penang flood after heavy rain and strong winds last night and today.

Titled “The Flooding in Penang, Malaysia”, the function enables those in the affected areas to mark themselves as safe on Facebook as a way to inform friends of their situation.

It listed the affected areas as George Town, Bayan Lepas, Batu Ferringhi, Sungai Puyu, Sungai Pinang, Balik Pulau, and Bukit Mertajam, all in Penang, as well as Kampung Masjid in Kedah.

“Updated sources report that up to five people have been killed and at least 2,000 people have been evacuated.

“Affected neighbourhoods include Kampung Permatang Rawa, Kampung Benggali, Kampung Simpah, Kampung Ooi Leng Hooi, Kampung Padang Lalang, Tanjung Bungah, Jalan Perak.

“Dozens of houses in multiple villages were damaged, and a landslide has damaged a road in Tanjung Bungah.

“Military personnel have been deployed to assist with relief efforts,” its description read.

It also advised the public to exercise caution and avoid affected areas.

While the feature has been in place since Oct 15, 2014, it is believed to be the first time it has been activated for a disaster in Malaysia.

It was reported that the feature was first developed by Facebook engineers, inspired by people’s use of social media to connect with friends and family, in the wake of the Tohoku earthquake in Japan in 2011.

Upon its introduction, the feature was first deployed in the April 2015 Nepal earthquake which killed nearly 9,000 people and injured some 22,000 others.

It has since been deployed in other natural or man-made disasters, such as the November 2015 Paris terror attacks, the Las Vegas strip shooting on Oct 1 this year and the latest during Storm Herwart, which hit Southern Denmark, Germany, Poland, Austria, Hungary and the Czech Republic on Oct 28-29.-FMT

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