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Friday, March 9, 2018

Geologist: Latest Sabah quake not aftershock from 2015

KOTA KINABALU - A geologist has identified the 5.2-magnitude earthquake that hit Ranau last night as a new quake, not an aftershock of the one in 2015 which killed 18 people and left many others injured.

Felix Tongkul, a professor at Universiti Malaysia Sabah, said there were no more aftershocks of the 2015 quake, and that no tremors had been recorded for a long time.

“So, this is a new quake,” Tongkul told FMT.

More than 100 aftershocks were reportedly recorded in the year following the June 5, 2015 earthquake.

“There could be aftershocks after last night’s quake but we hope it will not be a long series of earthquakes,” Tongkul added.

Last night’s earthquake struck the north-west of Sabah at 9.06pm, with the epicentre 11km north-west of Ranau.

According to the Meteorological Department website, it occurred at the coordinates 6.0°N 116.6°E, at a depth of 5km.

A 2.8-magnitude aftershock was reported to have followed at almost the same coordinates 21 minutes later, also at a depth of 5km.

This latest earthquake is reportedly the strongest after the 2015 quake which lasted about 30 seconds, stranding hundreds of mountain climbers from 16 countries on Mount Kinabalu.

About 130 climbers, who were staying at the mountain’s base camp last night intending to resume their climb early the next day, were gathered at a helipad used as an emergency assembly point.

Six members of the mountain search and rescue team from the district’s Fire and Rescue Department were at Laban Rata, the base camp, to help round up the climbers at the helipad.

Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Masidi Manjun later ordered the climbers and mountain guides to descend to the Sabah Parks headquarters, and temporarily suspended climbing activities.

Residents in Kota Kinabalu, Papar, Penampang, Kota Marudu, Tuaran, Kudat and Lahad Datu said they too felt the tremors.

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