Wednesday, January 29

Opening Mt Kinabalu to climbers in Sept ‘optimistic’ despite new aftershock – geologist


RANAU: Nearly two months after the 5.9 magnitude earthquake hit Sabah on June 5, another tremor, at 4.4 magnitude, was reported yesterday about midnight at Kilometre 8, West Coast of Ranau.

According to Sabah Meteorological Department director Abdul Malik Tusin, the tremor was the 112th aftershock recorded since the earthquake in early June.

He disclosed that to date a total of 107 aftershocks had been recorded while the rest of the aftershocks were not fully detected.

“Out of the said number, 76 aftershocks were reportedly felt, including the most recent one last midnight,” he said.

In the meantime, geologist Professor Dr Felix Tongkul said the recent aftershock could be considered as one of the five or six main strongest aftershocks since the June 5 quake, with aftershocks possibly continuing to occur for several more weeks albeit with less frequency and smaller magnitudes.

“The epicentre of this tremor is still located within the aftershock zone in terms of geographical distribution and timing. Aftershocks may continue for several more weeks.

“Based on the magnitude of the main shock, estimated around six, aftershocks with magnitudes more than four will usually be small in number. Most aftershocks will be of magnitude less than three,” said Felix, who is the director of Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS) Research and Innovation centre.

Following this, Felix opined that opening Mount Kinabalu to climbers as early as September is “a bit optimistic.”

“For as long as there are aftershocks, even if the magnitude is small, it will not be safe to climb Mount Kinabalu.

“Maybe September is a bit optimistic. However this is up to the management of the park,” he said.