The 19 deaths in Sabah were the first fatalities from a quake in Malaysia in living memory. We mourn the loss of lives and commend the courageous rescuers who worked tirelessly to reach the climbers.
The fatalities should serve us a wake-up call in terms of our preparedness and the precautions we should take to minimise casualties from future quakes, not only in Sabah but across the country.
The first thing we need to do is to review to what extent our buildings can withstand a strong quake – especially in urban centres such as the Klang Valley and Penang, where 50-storey buildings are unfortunately now becoming the norm in the absence of a Local Plan.
We cannot now say we will be spared from such quakes. How prepared are our rescue teams, hospitals and relief provisions for a larger emergency that may occur in more densely populated areas?
This is an excerpt from a statement by Penampang MP Darell Leiking:
I extend my deepest condolences and sympathies to family of those who died and also our prayers to those who remains missing. May the Good Lord guide those who are tasked to search and rescue them.
A new policy and law should now be drawn especially in wake of the new natural tragedy that Sabah has faced and will likely face again. New alert system (earthquake detection), building laws, constructions laws (to adopt earthquake eventualities) and even environmental mitigation laws/policy should be drawn up quickly so that Sabah can mitigate any eventualities that Mother Nature may act upon without warning someday again.
For us at Penampang, many I met yesterday and today had differing experience on what happened yesterday but one common stance was Sabah will never be again the same. We are now susceptible to an earthquake tragedy and many natural disasters that had given Sabahans a huge wakeup call to care more for each-other, to watch over each other and most of all to do our bit in demanding new laws as aforesaid including even hill cutting policies, uncontrolled development and reclamations and of course even to do our bit to save the environment.
While we cannot wholly prevent in whole mother nature’s reaction, we can surely do our bit to mitigate and lessen all possibilities of tragedy that can devastate us in the future. God Save Sabah.
This is from a report in the Economic Times:
However, research into the extent of damage soon revealed that the gradual strengthening of Japan’s building codes — in 1950, 1971 and 1981 — had made a big difference. Of the pre-1970 buildings in Kobe, 55% collapsed, or were irreparably damaged.
The proportion came down to 30% for structures built between 1970 and 1975, and to 10% for those built between 1976 and 1980. It was zero — that’s right, zero — for structures built after 1980.
That is proof positive that it is entirely possible to build safely in earthquake-prone areas. This does not mean that high standards will prevent all damage or deaths — some tragedies will always occur. But natural disasters once regarded as unavoidable, or even as God’s wrath, can now be checked by intelligent human intervention.
We can’t say we haven’t been warned.