Tuesday March 29, 2005

Thousands flee fearing quake

PETALING JAYA: Tens of thousands of people rushed out of their houses and hotels when the earthquake hit off the coast of Sumatra just after midnight.
Bukit Aman issued a warning to all state police headquarters to be on full alert and make preparations to evacuate people from coastal areas mainly in Penang and Kedah, especially Langkawi.
Internal security and public order director Comm Datuk Othman Talib said the alert was issued soon after news of the earthquake in Indonesia broke.
“We are still liasing with the meteorological department to verify the epicentre and the actual magnitude of the earthquake,” he said, adding that the police phone lines were flooded with calls. He said no injures were reported.
City fire and rescue department assistant director (operations) Abu Obaidat, who felt the tremors on the 15th floor of his quarters at the Menara Kota fire station, said the department's operations room in Jalan Hang Tuah received thousands of calls from worried city folk.
RUNNING FOR SAFETY: (above) Residents at the Cendana Condominium in Bandar Sri Permaisuri in Kuala Lumpur rushing down the stairs after feeling tremors slightly after midnight. — Bernamapic
“Even hospitals called us requesting for assistance.
“I immediately ordered all fire engines and men from 16 stations in the city to be dispatched to as many affected areas as possible to calm down the public and also inspect the buildings,” he said.
In Penang, businessman Lee Beng Tatt, 33, who stays on the 15th floor of the Marina Bay Condominium in Jalan Tanjong Tokong, said he was in the bathroom when he noticed the water in the toilet bowl swirling about.
“The swirling became more intense until some of the toilet bowl water spilt out. My wife, my son and I quickly rushed out of our apartment and made our way to the ground floor.”
State police chief Deputy Comm Datuk Christopher Wan said a tsunami alert had been issued to those staying along the state's coastline as a precaution.
“The northern region marine police has also issued warnings to fishermen out at sea. Marine police boats have also been deployed so that they could monitor the situation from sea.
“Police personnel are on stand-by in Gurney Drive, Tanjong Tokong and Batu Feringghi. We do not want to be caught off guard like the last time,” he said.
DCP Wan added “Patrol cars will also check on residents staying in the high-rise buildings by the seaside.”
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre in Hawaii issued a tsunami warning on their website for countries near the Indian Ocean.
The warning said the earthquake has the potential to generate a “widely destructive tsunami in that ocean or seas near the earthquake.
It urged “authorities in those regions to take immediate action”.
“This action should include evacuation of residents living along the coasts within a 1000km of the epicentre,” said the statement.
However, it said the authorities could assume that the danger had passed if no tsunami waves were observed within three hours of the earthquake.

Parent site: "Focus on Malaysia"
Online Count