Sabah quake monitoring system to get $5m boost

Kundasang - The government has approved an upgrade of the earthquake monitoring system in Sabah, two weeks after the deadly quake that killed 18 people, including 10 Singaporeans on Mount Kinabalu.

Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Ewon Ebin said an allocation of RM14.5 million (S$5.2 million) has been approved to upgrade the system. The allocation was approved by the Cabinet on Friday.

Datuk Ewon said the upgrade would include the setting up of 15 additional earthquake monitoring systems. "Currently, there are 30 earthquake monitoring systems in the state, including two in Ranau," he told a media conference here yesterday.

Mr Ewon said five of the new earthquake monitoring systems would be deployed in Ranau district, the epicentre of the earthquake.

The allocation would be channelled to the Meteorological Department under his ministry and installation of the systems would be done soon, he said, without providing an exact timeframe.

Since the 5.9-magnitude earthquake on June 5, Sabah has been subjected to a series of aftershocks at regular intervals. The latest recorded by the Malaysian Meteorological Department was a magnitude-4 "weak earthquake", about 11km north-west of Ranau at around 6am on Thursday.

According to Universiti Malaysia Sabah geologist Felix Tongkul, the series of aftershocks is "abnormal".

He said the aftershocks, with magnitudes ranging from 2 to 5.1, might indicate an activation of dormant fault lines in the area of the mountain that forms part of the Crocker Range.

"This is likely related to the relatively young age of the mountain," said Dr Tongkul, explaining that Mount Kinabalu was seven million years old, while other mountains were between 30 and 50 million years. "We have a mountain that is quite unpredictable," he said, adding that under normal scenarios, an earthquake would be followed by aftershocks of smaller intensity that eventually taper off.

Dr Tongkul, however, added that the regular aftershocks were not an indication of another major earthquake.

The Star/Asia News Network

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on June 21, 2015, with the headline 'Sabah quake monitoring system to get $5m boost'. Print Edition | Subscribe