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Many old tall buildings in KK not quake proof
Published on: Saturday, March 11, 2017

By Joshua Y. C. Kong
Eighteen people died on Mount Kinabalu with most of the deaths being members of a Singaporean group from Tanjong Katong Primary School on June 5, 2015.

Tremors were also felt in Tambunan, Tuaran, Kota Kinabalu, Inanam, Kota Belud, Kota Marudu, Kudat, Likas, Penampang, Putatan, Kinarut, Papar, Beaufort, Keningau, Beluran, Sandakan, Kunak, Tawau in Sabah and as far afield as Federal Territory of Labuan, Lawas, Limbang and Miri in Sarawak as well as Bandar Seri Begawan in Brunei.

Since then we had many tremors/after shocks. Is this normal for after shocks/ tremors so long after the major quake more than 18 months?

Would any big one come the way again soon?

Surprisingly and much unexpected that Kota Kinabalu shook under the tremors of a deep quake in the Celebes Sea when Kota Kinabalu (Malaysia) (744 km W from epicenter), a little shaking for few seconds; (Indonesia) (1674 km SW from epicenter) also felt gentle quakes twice; Australia) (2861 km SE from epicentre where Trembling only lasted about 5 seconds and Bandar Seri Begawan (Brunei) (850 km W from epicenter) also shook.

So it was indeed a great area of shaking and in Kota Kinabalu only some tall buildings had the shaking and some walls also cracked.

At this instance, no substantial damages were observed but who knows what had happened to the foundation of the old buildings without earthquake resistance?

I think many newly built tall buildings since June 2015 also do not have earthquake resistance to withstand any major quakes.

Are we to be thankful that we do not have very tall buildings as in Kuala Lumpur?

Some had called for KKIA to be resited elsewhere in Sabah in the past decades so that KK can grow very tall concrete buildings but could such buildings survive the Celebes quake?

Look at it in another angle, with the latest quake and tremors from Celebes, is it a blessing in disguise of an early alert that KK cannot afford to continue to build any more tall buildings as we can see that most of the tall buildings shaken were built in reclaimed zones of Kota Kinabalu.

Is there an official report on the causes and consequences of the tremor for Mount Kinabalu (Ranau) and Celebes sea in the context of the future developments of Kota Kinabalu as there is a tendency to build very tall buildings as we have seen a few ones already in Kota Kinabalu and many are in the pipeline as land in the city is scarce and very expensive ?

Even Signal Hill in KK is not spared from very tall buildings. The new building albeit delayed for decades next to Bank Negara could be a proposed 25 storey building.

Are we heading the right direction given that it is seen to be an over-building of towers and shops/commercial buildings in KK at the moment with many related issues of over-crowding .

We would never know if a similar one or worse one from Celebes or nearby sea although Sabah the land below the wind is just outside the “ring of fire” could recur.

Would an investigation be carried out to assess the stability of the foundation of old and under construction building without earthquake resistance especially in reclaimed zones near and far within the city limit?

Also did the low commercial buildings experience any shaking in the Celebes quake?

If not, then there is a special message to the tall buildings albeit as tall as 12 storeys.

Can we ignore such message?

Even a new flyover has a pressing message that it could be flooded dangerously for driving uphill in KK and many people could not believe that incidence.

Joshua Y. C. Kong

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