The Sun (Malaysia)

Return to Mt Kinabalu

> Discovery host Henry Golding revisits ground zero of the tragic Sabah quake to seek answers to the devastatio­n


ON JUNE 5 this year, at 7.15am, an earthquake rocked Mount Kinabalu, Malaysia’s tallest peak. The quake stranded hundreds of climbers, and left 18 people dead.

The human tragedy made headlines but the biggest question posed was how an earthquake of such magnitude took place in an area considered largely earthquake free.

The truth is, Sabah is not an earthquake-free area. The land sits on top of the Eurasian tectonic plate which borders the Philippine plate and the Pacific plate.

Although Sabah is nowhere near where these three tectonic plates meet, it still can experience the compressio­n forces from the interactio­n of these plates.

In the Discovery Channel documentar­y Sabah Quake, host Henry Golding (whose mother hails from Sarawak) attempts to find out the why and how the earthquake happened.

With assistance and expertise of the Mt Kinabalu guides who had rescued climbers stranded on that fateful day, Golding ( top) will retrace the path the survivors took to reveal their harrowing experience.

The programme will also feature actual footage of the earthquake and the emotional accounts of those who had lived through the ordeal.

Sabah Quake airs this Thursday on Discovery Channel (Astro channel 551) at 9pm.

Sabah has experience­d earthquake­s before. The previous major one hit the town of Ranau in 1991. However, the effects of the 2015 quake was more devastatin­g.

“In the 1991 earthquake, the epicentre was located on the east of Ranau which was a small hilly area,” said Dr Felix Tongkul ( below), a professor of Geology at the Faculty of Science and Natural Resources in Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS).

“What happened during the recent earthquake was that the epicentre was in Kundasan, which was right at the foot of the mountain.”

Felix, who is currently UMS’ Research and Innovation Management Centre director, added that the source of that earthquake was right underneath Mt Kinabalu.

The exact epicentre was 7km northeast of the town of Kundasang, or 14km northwest of Ranau town.

While the experts knew an earthquake would take place, no one could predict exactly when and where. And they never expected it to be right beneath the mountain.

Due to the location of the quake, the effects were bigger, especially with the landslides that followed soon after, that caused boulders to go hurling down the mountain.

Felix, who is featured in Sabah Quake, said: “The reason [people] are worried now is because they are more aware.

“The 1991 earthquake was big and buildings did have cracks. But there was no social media and there was not much news coverage by the national media.”

Felix recalled he was at the scene in 1991 where only a local Sabah paper covered the news.

He added: “Malaysia is not really that earthquake prone. We should not be comparing ourselves to Japan or the US.

“But that doesn’t mean we should not be doing anything about it.” He said there has been a slight increase in public awareness about earthquake­s since the recent devastatio­n in Sabah.

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