P. SELVARANI'S interview with Dr Mohd Rosaidi Che Abas, senior director of the Malaysian Meteorological Department, was an interesting, informative and insightful piece.
The interview enlightened us on critical information with regards to earthquake patterns, the severity of its magnitude that can trigger a tsunami and why Malaysians should brace themselves for the possibility of major earthquakes closer to the nation's shores. Though Malaysia is not sitting on the Pacific Ring of Fire, we shouldn't be complacent as Mother Nature is very unpredictable.
The impact of earthquakes and tsunamis in Malaysia depends on the epicentre of the earthquake. Penang will be more affected by the tremor if the epicentre is north of Sumatra. If the epicentre is near Padang which is in West Sumatra, Selangor and Kuala Lumpur, which are about 300km away, will feel the tremors.
Are Malaysians prepared to face the worst-case scenario? Do we know the dos and don'ts when faced with such disasters, especially for those who live on the fault lines, such as in Bukit Tinggi and Janda Baik?
Low-rise buildings are at higher risk of collapsing compared with high-rise buildings, which will sway strongly but are unlikely to collapse.
Rosaidi advised Malaysians to be prepared by storing emergency numbers in their phones and have a bag with basic necessities. He added that if we were caught in a tall building, don't panic and run. Instead, grab a bottle of water and run under a bed or table to avoid being hit by falling objects.
In the event of strong tremors, we are advised to stay away from windows and stick close to the building's structural reinforcements, such as pillars or interior walls.
But many among us might not even have a clue about our home or office structural reinforcements. As such, it is vital for the authorities to put up signs informing people of "earthquake protection zones" in all buildings.
It is heartening to note that the Institute of Engineers Malaysia (IEM) is drafting guidelines for earthquake-proof building designs. IEM has also submitted proposals to carry out investigations into the structural vulnerability of existing buildings.
However, nothing can be done if government agencies do not provide the funding to IEM.
Though the Meteorological Department has a proper system in place, such as sirens along the coast and Fixed Line Alert System to detect and warn the public in the event of an earthquake-related tsunami, these are just palliative measures.
What's more important are buildings that can withstand seismic activity to prevent loss of lives and property.
Base isolation with the use of steel-laminated natural rubber bearings has proven to be an efficacious method to protect structures.
P. Uthaya Malar, Kuala Lumpur