An earthquake engineering expert has urged the Malaysian authorities to carry out a seismic hazard study to promote earthquake awareness and preparedness.
An earthquake engineering expert has urged the Malaysian authorities to carry out a seismic hazard study to promote earthquake awareness and preparedness. This is important particularly for highly-populated cities like Kuala Lumpur, Penang and Johor Baru, said Associate Professor Dr Hoe I. Ling, who teaches Civil Engineering and Engineering Mechanics at Columbia University here. He said a seismic hazard study should be initiated on a worst-case scenario so that the information could serve as input for conducting geo-technical and structural response analysis as well as risk assessment. Prof Ling proposed a five-point scope of study: estimating the worst-case scenario earthquake; evaluating the integrity of existing building; soil response assessment; risk assessment; and instrumentation of selected buildings Prof Ling, who is from Sibu, had in an interview with The Star
in October 2003 suggested that Malaysia start earthquake awareness and preparedness programmes to inform the public rather than have needless panic should a major tremor occur. He had carried out seismic studies on the threat to the region following an earlier earthquake in Sumatra. Prof Ling said that the Dec 26 earthquake occurred in the north of Sumatra, thus Penang and other areas were affected.
“If this big earthquake were in the southern part, I wouldn’t want to guess what would have happened,” he said. He said that countries like Malaysia and Singapore that had never experienced serious earthquakes or tsunamis were not prepared for such an eventuality. Prof Ling said that it was very important to have a warning system to inform the people of the possibility of a tsunami. From the engineering aspect, he said, breakwaters may be constructed near the shore, but that these would not be adequate to stop massive tsunamis.
“So, an evacuation system is very important for those living near the shore. He said that Malaysia was geographically “young”, adding that “we still do not know a lot about the seismic activities in the region.”