Sabah and Sarawak at risk of moderate quakes

Kuala Lumpur: Malaysia is susceptible to earthquakes, with Sabah and Sarawak at risk of moderate quakes and Peninsular Malaysia, mild quakes, the Dewan Rakyat was told Thursday.

Deputy Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Datuk Fadillah Yusof said this was learned following a study on the risks and hazards of earthquakes and tsunami in Malaysia completed in 2009 by the Academy of Sciences Malaysia (ASM).

He said based on data compiled between September and November this year, tremors of less than magnitude four were felt in Beluran, Kota Marudu, Kudat and Tambunan in Sabah.

"This indicates that Malaysia is susceptible to earthquakes, but moderate and mild ones," he said when replying to a question from Hamim Samuri (BN-Ledang) who had wanted to know of the latest studies pertaining to the risk of earthquakes in Malaysia.

The Study on the Risks and Hazards of Earthquakes and Tsunamis in Malaysia was funded with an allocation of RM3.378 million and involved the Meteorological Department, the Minerals and Geoscience Department, Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM), Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) and Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM).

Fadillah said on the initiative of the Meteorological Department, 25 strong motion sensors, 10 of them in the Klang Valley, and 17 weak motion sensors were installed throughout Malaysia to monitor tremors.

"In 2012, we hope to install 20 more sensors, including in Sarawak. With these equipment, we hope to monitor tremors throughout the country," he said.

Fadillah said five teams, comprising various experts, had been established to monitor tremors and there was also a working group to develop building design codes.

He also said several recommendations and action plans had been outlined to face the risk of earthquakes, among them installation of Global Positioning System (GPS) equipment and seismic sensors and considering the use of seismic natural rubber bearings produced by the Rubber Research Institute in the construction of key infrastructure projects in zones at high risk of earthquakes. - Bernama