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Sunday, December 26, 2004

Fifty-three dead, 34 missing after tidal waves hit Malaysia

Fifty-three dead, 34 missing after tidal waves hit Malaysia

Fifty-three dead, 34 missing after tidal waves hit Malaysia

News Update by The Star Newsdesk

KUALA LUMPUR: At least 53 people were killed, scores injured and 34 reported missing in several parts of Malaysia when tidal waves of up to five metres high hit the coastal regions as a result an earthquake in Sumatra.

Officials have described it as the worst natural disaster in Malaysia’s history.

Penang was the worst hit, with 38 reported dead and 30 missing at press time.

In Kedah, 12 more were reported dead and three missing, in Perak two dead and one missing and Selangor one dead.

A Malaysian husband and wife were also reported killed while diving in the Emerald Cave off Thailand’s southern coast after a huge tsunami struck.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said he felt sad about the lives that were lost in the disaster and extended his condolences to the bereaved families.

He has asked Second Finance Minister Tan Sri Nor Mohamed Yakcop to give financial help to the victims.

According to the Meteorological Services Department Seismology division, preliminary information showed the location of the earthquake's epicentre at Latitude 3.1° North and Longitude 95.5° East, some 680km from Kuala Lumpur and 590km from Penang.

The first of the tidal waves, which hit the coastal areas at different times, was reported at about noon, about three hours after the tremors were felt in Malaysia.

However, a Penang Meteorological Services spokesman said the waves could have hit Penang shores earlier, before 11am.

Waves reaching 3m was reported at Batu Maung and between 2.4m and 3m at Batu Ferringhi.

The spokesman said the waves could have gone above 4.6m, particularly at enclosed bay areas.

Unconfirmed reports from the public said the waves at Langkawi had hit as high as 8m.

The seawaters swept more than 150m inland, drowning boatmen, holidaymakers and other people in its path.

Boats were capsized or tossed up onto the roads, and houses and other property destroyed.

Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, who is also the National Disaster Relief and Management committee chairman, has ordered the evacuation of residents in the coastal areas of Penang and Kedah due to concern that tidal waves might recur.

Housing and Local Government Minister Datuk Seri Ong Ka Ting has directed Fire and Rescue Department officers to go all out to help in the rescue work and to be ready if the waves were to hit again.

Earlier, between 9am and 9.30am, tremors lasting about one and two minutes were reported in all states except Malacca, Johor and Pahang.

The tremors sent occupants of many high-rise buildings scurrying out in fear, while in other premises the people were told to leave.

There was no report of any injury.

Earlier report

PETALING JAYA: At least 43 people were killed and more reported missing in several parts of Malaysia when tidal waves of up to six metres high hit northern Peninsular Malaysia following an earthquake in Sumatra on Sunday.

As at 9.30pm, Penang was the worst hit, with 33 reported dead and many more missing.

Nine more were reported dead in Kedah (eight in Kota Kuala Muda and one in Langkawi), one in Tanjung Piandang, Perak and one in Sabak Bernam, Selangor.

A Malaysian husband and wife were also reported killed while diving in the Emerald Cave off Thailand's southern coast when the tsunami struck.

Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak has ordered the evacuation of residents in the coastal areas of Penang and Kedah due to concern that the tidal waves might recur.

Meanwhile, the Meteorological Services Department said that high swells were expected to occur in the coastal areas of Perlis, Kedah and Penang in the next few days following the earthquake.

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