Sunday December 26, 2004

Tsunami kills at least 28 in Malaysia

By Syed Azman

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - At least 28 people have been killed and dozens are missing and feared drowned after an unprecedented tsunami triggered by a huge earthquake struck Malaysia's northern coast.
The government ordered evacuation of the affected areas.
"Our country has never experienced such a disaster before," Deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak told reporters. "But among the tsunami-hit nations, we are the least affected."
Overall, more than 4,500 people in Indonesia, India, Malaysia, Maldives, Sri Lanka and Thailand were feared dead in the world's fifth-largest quake in a century.
Najib said that at least 100 people had been injured and more than 200 houses swept away by the waves in the two worst-hit states of Penang and Kedah in northern Malaysia facing the straits of Malacca.
Some of those killed were picnickers and jet skiers at the popular Batu Ferringhi beach on Penang island, including a family of five.
Television pictures showed hospital workers taking bodies to the mortuary as several women wept.
Najib said the waves were as high as five metres (15 feet), tossing a jet ski into a hotel lobby and overturning several luxury yachts in Langkawi island near the Thai border.
Fishing boats in Langkawi were seen piled on top of cars.
Rescuers said dozens more were feared missing from a fishing village in Kedah after three 3-metre high (9-ft) waves hit the coast from around 1:30 p.m. on Sunday.
Many fishermen were also feared missing after the wave hit the western coast of Penang, Penang Civil Defence Director Mohamad Johari Mohamad Taufik told Reuters.
"Many fishing boats had gone out to sea this morning and not all have returned. There are still some out there," he said.
Penang is popular with Western and local visitors and hotels in the area are normally packed during the peak year-end holiday season.
Thousands of residents of high-rise buildings poured into the streets across the west coast of peninsular Malaysia, frightened after tremors followed the huge early morning earthquake that struck off the coast of neighbouring Indonesia.

Parent site: "Focus on Malaysia"