Are our buildings safe?

KUALA LUMPUR: There is limited information on how Malaysian buildings can withstand the effects of seismic tremors from earthquakes, according to Boon Che Wee, President of the Malaysian Institute of Architects (PAM).

“While Malaysian buildings are designed to withstand certain levels of tremors, it is not earthquake-proof as Malaysia is not in the earthquake zone. We are aware of a study conducted by the Works Ministry and Kumpulam Ikram Sdn Bhd on the effects of tremors on our buildings but we have not seen the full report.

"So far, the damages to the buildings have been minimal but that’s not to say, this will remain the case in the future,” Boon told on Oct 1, 2009.

With seismic activity seemingly on the rise in the past decade, Boon said the time is ripe to have a proper forum involving all the relevant parties to compile data and study the impact of these tremors on our buildings.

"Information should be shared, so all those involved in the construction of a building will be able to design and construct a stronger, safer structure in the event of powerful seismic tremors," added Boon.

Two earthquakes struck yesterday; a 8.0- magnitude quake in Samoa in the morning and later in the evening, a 7.6-magnitude quake in Sumatra. The effect of the Sumatra quake was felt all the way in various parts of Malaysia and Singapore, sending thousands fleeing their offices and apartments. Eyewitness and those affected described structures as "shaking and swaying" from the tremors.  At press time, the death toll in Indonesia stands at 529 after a second earthquake rocked western Indonesia earlier today, while the death toll in Samoa rose to 149 people.

The recent earthquake in Sumatera, Indonesia (Photo by Reuters)



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