KOTA KINABALU (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Sabahans are forced to live in fear of more tremors as four aftershocks hit them in one day, sending ceilings and roofs crashing and employees scurrying out of their offices.
The worst tremor - measuring 4.3 - came at 5.33pm on Tuesday (June 23) and was felt in the heart of Kota Kinabalu, the first time the state capital has been hit in two weeks.
The number of tremors since the 5.9-magnitude earthquake on June 5 has now hit 90.
Sabahans will have to brace for more shakes for several weeks as the earthquake-hit Mount Kinabalu settles down.
The first tremor came at 10.54am and measured at 2.6. It sent roofs crashing in schools in Ranau.
The 5.33pm tremor was stronger and felt not only in Kundasang, Ranau and Kota Belud but also in Kota Kinabalu.
These were followed by two more tremors with magnitudes of 2.6 and 3.0 at 6.26pm and 6.39pm respectively.
Geologist Professor Felix Tongkul said more tremors were expected as the mountain continued to stabilise.
He added that the mountain was also causing slips in nearby fault lines that were triggering the tremors.
It was likely that the mountain had reactivated dormant faultlines, Prof Tongkul said.
His advice to an already jittery public: "Expect more tremors for now and get used to them."
Tongkul said the epicentre for the last major earthquake that hit Ranau in 1991 was far away from Mount Kinabalu and the aftershocks tapered off within a few days.
This time, the quake hit the mountain and complicated the stabilisation process.
The 5.33pm tremors caused some anxious moments for those in multi-storey buildings who suddenly felt the floors swaying.
The first wave shook the building slightly but the second wave caused more intense shaking, said accounts manager S.Y. Lee, who ran out from his first floor office at Lintas after the tremors.
The tremors were also felt at other commercial areas, including KK Times Square and Imago Mall.
Suria FM operating manager Ivy Stanislaus, whose office is located on the third floor of KK Times Square, said they felt the floor swaying and rushed out of the building.
"It was bad on the third floor. I cannot imagine how it was for the others.
"We rushed down and saw that many more people were already there. This tremor was especially bad as it went on for quite a while," she said of the 5.33pm tremor.
"Kota Kinabalu has been quiet for a while. Now the fears are back."
The tremors are causing deeper concerns among people living closer to the epicentres in Ranau.
"We are very worried. The cracks on school buildings are getting bigger and it is not safe for students or teachers," said principal Ng Li King of SJK (C) Pai Wen.
A block at the Ranau Primary was seriously damaged during the 10.54am tremor and has been rendered unusable.
Others in Ranau have become accustomed to the aftershocks and are more worried about mudslides and other side effects of the quake.
"The tremors are happening almost every day. We are more worried about landslides or rock avalanches," said villager Sulia Jimi in Kundasang.
Housewife Sheilla Mijoh, 55, from Penampang said Sabah had never experienced so many tremors.
"My goodness, so many aftershocks. I am very worried. What is happening to Sabah?"