All major news networks are flashing the 8.9 magnitude earthquake that struck at 2.46 pm local time in the northeastern coast of Japan. The quake triggered a 10-meter tsunami. As I watched the footage of boats and cars being swept away, I thought about my friends and their family in Tokyo and other areas that were hit by the earthquake and then the tsunami.
Just yesterday, I was asking my good friend Hata about the 7.2 earthquake that struck on Wednesday. According to him, there was no damage in Tokyo as they were a distance away from the epicenter. I hope that they are safe this time too and remain safe in the aftermath. My prayers go out to them, especially at the Human Care Association, Centre for Independent Living Hino and Machida Human Network.
Facebook and Twitter is alive with chatter of earthquake with a magnitude of 7.6 on the Richter scale that hit off Sumatra near the city of Padang at 6.16pm just now. A tsunami watch has been issued for Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and India. I did not feel a thing. Nothing moved. The water in the aquarium did not slosh about. The doors did not rattle unlike the time when even the floor moved under me for a good one minute or more and made me giddy.
Having moved to a single storey house now, I still feel for those who are staying in high rise apartments, especially people with mobility impairments. Section 40 of the Persons with Disabilities Act 2008 (PWD Act 2008) states that disabled persons shall have the right to assistance in the event to natural disasters, among others.
I am interested in finding out if anything has been done to address this matter since my letter to Dato’ Seri Sharizat in May 9, 2005 regarding a systemtic evacuation plan for disabled people trapped in high rise buildings in the event of a disaster such as an earthquake or a fire. Dare I be optimistic and say that surely the government has done something since the PWD Act 2008 has already clearly spelt that out in as many words?
There is a sudden spike in this blog’s traffic today. The entry with the most hits according to WordPress’s Blog Stat is Earthquake In Penang Update. That was the worst tremblor that I experienced when I literally saw the main door rattling like someone was desperately knocking on it from outside trying to get in. I knew it was an earthquake and wondered if the building would collapse as I felt the floor swaying like never before.
The previous one was on Boxing Day in 2004 when an earthquake with a magnitude of between 9.1 to 9.3 in the Richter scale shook Sumatra and caused the mother of all tsunamis in recent times. The waves decimated coastal villages from Acheh to Sri Lanka to Madagascar in the African continent. It was the greatest disaster many of us had known in our lives.
An earthquake with a magnitude of 7.5 struck off the western coast of Indonesia’s Sumatra island close to Simeulue island at 4.08pm just now, according to the US Geological Survey (USGS). A tsunami warning was issued. This was the cause of the spike in traffic. People were looking for information on “earthquake” and “Penang”. That page came out topmost in Google for those two keywords. I pray that no lives are lost in this calamity. The people in Sumatra have suffered enough from previous earthquakes.
For people who are living in high-rise buildings, it is imperative to evacuate at the earliest possible opportunity. There are a few safety tips that people who are caught in an earthquake should observe. I have summarised them into 12 points in an entry titled Earthquake: What To Do. That was in 2004. I knew that I could not evacuate like other people and I thought it would be good increase my chances of surviving a devastating earthquake by reading up on measures that I should take in such instances.