Malaysians wary after 7.9-magnitude quake hits Sumatra

Women walk near a sign on their way home marking a tsunami evacuation route a day after a 7.8 magnitude quake struck far out at sea near Padang, West Sumatra province March 3, 2016. — Reuters pic
Women walk near a sign on their way home marking a tsunami evacuation route a day after a 7.8 magnitude quake struck far out at sea near Padang, West Sumatra province March 3, 2016. — Reuters pic

KUALA LUMPUR, March 3 — News of the 7.9-magnitude earthquake in Sumatra last night struck fear in many people in peninsular Malaysia, making them recall the devastating tsunami of 2004. 

The fear was much greater for those who had the unfortunate experience of feeling the tremors in at least two states on the west coast and, strangely, in Kelantan on the east coast as well.

The 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami that occurred on Dec 26 following a 9.0-magnitude earthquake near the west coast of Sumatra slammed into the coastlines of 11 countries and resulted in the deaths of over 220,000 people.

Last night’s earthquake also occurred west of Sumatra, at 8.49pm, and triggered a tsunami warning for Indonesia and Australia that was called off a little later.

Tremors were felt in Johor, Selangor and Kelantan.

The Foreign Ministry said in a statement today that all Malaysians, including students, in Padang, Sumatra, were safe.

It said it was monitoring the situation in Sumatra closely.

“The Malaysian Embassy in Jakarta through the Education Malaysia office in Jakarta and Malaysian Consulate-General in Medan is in constant contact with student representatives and other Malaysians in Padang,” it said.

Malaysians in need of aid can contact the Consulate-General in Medan at 0062614531342, 0062614535271 or 0062614523992 or call the duty officer at the ministry at 03-88874570 or 03-88874770.

In Terengganu, the State Department of Civil Defence said it was ready to act immediately in the event of any tsunami warning.

Its deputy director (operations) Amir Sarifudin Zalman said the department would deploy all its assets in the risk-prone areas for evacuation of the people.

In Johor, residents of the 19-storey condominium in Taman Bukit Aliff, Tampoi, felt the tremors and notified the Johor Baharu Fire and Rescue Department.

Its operations commander Rohaizat Hamdan said five fire-fighters sent there ordered all the residents to assemble in an open space outside the building. The residents were allowed to return to their homes after it was ascertained it was safe to do so.

In Selangor, the State Fire and Rescue Department received three distress calls over tremors from Petaling Jaya, Shah Alam and Kajang.

Its assistant director of operations, Mohd Sani Harul, said the first call came at 8.54pm from a resident of the Selangor State Development Corporation flats in Section 7, Petaling Jaya.

The second call came 15 minutes later from a resident of Block A, Section 26/38, Kampung Baru Hicom, Shah Alam, and the third a minute after that from the Tiara Park Home area in Taman Bukit Ria, Kajang.

In Kelantan, more than 300 residents of three 23-storey blocks of apartments at Pelangi Mall felt the tremors.

A resident, Hazram Fauzi, 33, said he panicked and ran down the stairs from the 19th floor with his wife and three children.

“I saw the lights in the house swaying. At first I thought it was the wind but I realised that the windows were shut. I felt dizzy and heard neighbours talking loudly outside their homes,” he told Bernama today.

He said a team of fire and rescue personnel checked the buildings and allowed them to return to their homes.

New Straits Times reporter Kalbana Perimbanayagam was making a cup of coffee when the tremors hit.

“I felt dizzy and then heard neighbours talking loudly outside their homes.  I decided to run down with the other residents from the 12th floor,” said Kalbana.

In Negri Sembilan, the State Fire and Rescue Department said it did not receive any reports of tremors last night.

Its director, Norazam Khamis, also dismissed rumours of tremors in Port Dickson as reported on social media. — Bernama

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