Thursday, December 30, 2004

All festivities For New Year 2005 cancelled

SUNGAI PETANI: The Government has cancelled all celebrations to usher in the New Year in view of the tsunami tragedy and has called on all parties, including the private sector, to instead hold prayers for the welfare of those affected.
Describing the tragedy as the worst ever encountered by the country, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said: “We are going through hard times now, with hundreds of people affected by the disaster. I have directed the state governments to cancel all functions planned for the New Year.
The Prime Minister said that this was “not the time for us to be happy ushering in the New Year.”
“We need to pray to God to give the victims strength to endure the hardship they are going through now,” he said when addressing relief workers and officers after a briefing on the impact of the tsunami in Kedah at the police operations centre in Kota Kuala Muda.
Abdullah said he wanted all mosques to focus on prayers for those affected by the tidal waves at their sermons tomorrow.
“We pray that the affected victims gather courage to accept the tragedy and find ways to go through the ordeal with the support from all quarters,” he said.
“This should be our prayers during New Year’s Eve. Non-Muslims can also conduct similar prayers,” he said.
In Petaling Jaya, MCA president Datuk Seri Ong Ka Ting has asked the party and Chinese community organisations to heed Abdullah’s call.
“I fully support the Prime Minister’s call and urge all MCA levels and Chinese community groups to do likewise,” he said.
Ong also called on all non-Muslim religious organisations such as Buddhist and Taoist associations to hold special prayers for the victims.
“Let us all pray for the safety of the people and country, and for such a disaster to not happen again,” he said.
He had asked the party’s religious bureau chief Datuk Fu Ah Kiow to immediately contact the various groups to urge them to hold such prayers as one of the programmes to usher in the New Year.
City Hall has called off its countdown celebrations at Dataran Merdeka. A spokesman said there would not be any activities including fireworks displays.
TV3 and its subsidiary 8TV also cancelled two major concerts. The stations had originally planned to carry live telecasts of the AmBank Group Gemilang 2005 at Dataran Merdeka and Countdown@KLCC.
TV3 chief executive officer Datuk Farid Ridzuan told a press conference that the celebrations were now no longer appropriate. Both stations would instead be sending their staff to offer assistance in the affected areas of Kedah, Perlis and Penang.
They would also be providing textbooks and uniforms for children going back to school. Meanwhile, the Prime Minister also announced that the Government had decided to pay an additional RM2,000 to families whose houses were partially damaged and RM5,000 for those whose homes were destroyed in the tragedy.
He said the Government would also compensate RM1,000 to those whose boats were partially damaged and RM3,000 to owners whose boats were destroyed.
Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak had announced on Tuesday that the Government would give RM1,000 each to those families who had lost their loved ones and RM200 each to those who had sustained injuries.
Abdullah also commended the local newspapers for launching various relief funds to help the victims, saying the concern shown by Malaysians was praiseworthy

"Tsunami warning was stopped"

Just minutes after the earthquake in the Indian Ocean on Sunday morning, Thailand's foremost meterological experts were sitting together in a crisis meeting. But they decided not to warn about the tsunami "out of courtesy to the tourist industry", write the Thailand daily newspaper The Nation.The experts got the news around 8:00 am on Sunday morning local time. An hour later, the first massive wave struck. But the experts started to discuss the economic impacts when they were discussing if a tsunami warning should be made. The main argument against such a warning was that there have not been any floods in 300 years. Also, the experts believed the Indonesian island Sumatra would be a "cushion" for the southern coast of Thailand. The experts also had bad information; they thought the tremor was 8.1. A similar earthquake occurred in the same area in 2002 with no flooding at all.

We finally decided not to do anything because the tourist season was in full swing. The hotels were 100% booked full. What if we issued a warning, which would have led to an evacuation, and nothing had happened. What would be the outcome? The tourist industry would be immediately hurt. Our department would not be able to endure a lawsuit...

My only comment here would be that if these experts believed they would hurt the tourist industry by calling out an alarm and it turned out to be false, what do they think will happen to the tourist industry now?...commented by the blogger from..

Sunday, December 26, 2004

At least 53 Malaysians killed by tidal waves

KUALA LUMPUR: At least 53 people were killed, scores injured and 34 reported missing in several parts of Malaysia when tidal waves of up to five metres high hit the coastal regions as a result an earthquake in Sumatra.
Officials have described it as the worst natural disaster in Malaysia’s history.
Penang was the worst hit, with 38 reported dead and 30 missing at press time.
In Kedah, 12 more were reported dead and three missing, in Perak two dead and one missing and Selangor one dead.
A Malaysian husband and wife were also reported killed while diving in the Emerald Cave off Thailand’s southern coast after a huge tsunami struck.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said he felt sad about the lives that were lost in the disaster and extended his condolences to the bereaved families.
He has asked Second Finance Minister Tan Sri Nor Mohamed Yakcop to give financial help to the victims.
According to the Meteorological Services Department Seismology division, preliminary information showed the location of the earthquake's epicentre at Latitude 3.1° North and Longitude 95.5° East, some 680km from Kuala Lumpur and 590km from Penang.
The first of the tidal waves, which hit the coastal areas at different times, was reported at about noon, about three hours after the tremors were felt in Malaysia.
However, a Penang Meteorological Services spokesman said the waves could have hit Penang shores earlier, before 11am.
Waves reaching 3m was reported at Batu Maung and between 2.4m and 3m at Batu Ferringhi.
The spokesman said the waves could have gone above 4.6m, particularly at enclosed bay areas.
Unconfirmed reports from the public said the waves at Langkawi had hit as high as 8m.
The seawaters swept more than 150m inland, drowning boatmen, holidaymakers and other people in its path.
Boats were capsized or tossed up onto the roads, and houses and other property destroyed.
Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, who is also the National Disaster Relief and Management committee chairman, has ordered the evacuation of residents in the coastal areas of Penang and Kedah due to concern that tidal waves might recur.
Housing and Local Government Minister Datuk Seri Ong Ka Ting has directed Fire and Rescue Department officers to go all out to help in the rescue work and to be ready if the waves were to hit again.
Earlier, between 9am and 9.30am, tremors lasting about one and two minutes were reported in all states except Malacca, Johor and Pahang.
The tremors sent occupants of many high-rise buildings scurrying out in fear, while in other premises the people were told to leave.

Real life sea drama from high-rises

PENANG: Several high-rise residents witnessed a real life high sea drama as giant waves as high as three metres lashed the shores of the island.
They saw boats being “swallowed” by the succession of waves which hit the island just after lunchtime yesterday.
The tidal wave left a trail of destruction, overturning motorcycles, moving concrete road dividers, cars and damaging homes along the coast.
It came five hours after high rise residents were rudely forced out of their beds at 9am following a tremor brought about by an earthquake in West Sumatra.
Engineer Brian Hoe, 34, said he saw six to seven fishing boats going under the tidal waves measuring 2.5m to 3m.
“I saw some of the smaller boats out-running the waves while the bigger boats went under the might of the waves,” he said.
Judo instructor Justin Khoo, 28, who stays at the 12th floor of the Sea Range Tower at Mount Pleasure, captured the tidal waves when they hit the shores.
“I came back from buying lunch at about 11.30am when I saw the swell of the waves building up,” he said.
“By the time I took three or four shots, I could hear from a distance away the screams of picnickers,” he said.
At least 60 boats capsized or were swept away by the waves off Tanjong Tokong coast.
Some fishing boats were washed ashore landing on roads. Motorcycles parked by the seafront were also not spared as the waters swept the machines away.The ferry service was not disrupted.


Monday December 27, 8:34 AM

Aceh quake, tsunami death toll tops 12,000
(Kyodo) _ The death toll from the massive 9.0 earthquake off Indonesia's Aceh on Sunday morning and subsequent tsunamis across the Bay of Bengal and Indian Ocean that hit India, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Malaysia, Myanmar, Bangladesh and the Maldives had topped 12,300 by early Monday, official and media reports said.
In Sri Lanka, reports trickling in from areas under the control of the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam have raised the death toll from a massive tsunami that hit the island country to 4,500, the news agency Reuters said.
Reports added government officials fear 22 Japanese tourists may have died when the tsunami struck Yala National Park in Sri Lanka's southeast.
Up to 1 million more people in the island country have been affected by the tidal waves and flooding.
In India, 3,000 people are said killed in southern Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh states and another 1,000 are believed dead in the Andaman and Nicobar islands, Indian possessions off the coasts of Thailand and Myanmar.
In Indonesia, at least 4,400 people are believed dead, including more than 1,000 in the Aceh provincial capital Banda Aceh that died from earthquake damage and the later tsunamis.
In Thailand, where tsunami struck the popular tourist resort islands of Phuket and Pipi and many others parts of the country's south, 390 people are believed dead, including 130 on Phuket alone.
In Malaysia's northern Penang and Kedah states, 42 people have been killed and the deputy prime minister said more are missing.
The Maldives, a country of low-lying islands that rise barely a meter above sea level, reported at least 28 people killed there when the tsunamis rolled over the capital island Male and several other tiny islands and atolls popular with tourists.
Reports from Myanmar have not yet given death tolls, but it is known the country was hit by the tidal waves and earthquake damage has been reported from Myanmar as well.
The tsunami killed at least two people in Bangladesh and traveled as far as Africa, where eight people were reported by the U.S. Geological Survey killed in Somalia.
The 9.0 magnitude earthquake in the sea just off Aceh was the biggest since a 9.2 magnitude quake struck Prince William Sound in Alaska in 1964. The Aceh temblor is also the fourth biggest recorded since 1900.