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More powerful quakes yet to come in Sabah?

PETALING JAYA, June 5 (Sin Chew Daily) -- Located along an earthquake fault line, the region surrounding the town of Ranau is currently entering a phase of seismic activity, and the Meteorological Department does not rule out the possibility that more powerful earthquakes will rock the state of Sabah in the future.

Deputy director-general of the Meteorological Department Dr. Mohd Rosaidi bin Che Abas pointed out during a telephone interview with Sin Chew Daily that this was not the first time Ranau had experienced a moderate earthquake. Tremors at magnitude 5.1 and 5.4 on the Richter scale had previously occurred here.

"This was the first time we had a 5.9-magnitude quake in Ranau. Although the earthquake lasted about one minute, the tremor that we could actually feel was less than a minute long."

He admitted that the quake was the strongest in the region at 5.9, and data showed that there was a weakening trend of activity at the epicenter.

"There will not be stronger earthquakes than this in the near future. However, as Ranau has entered the phase of seismic activity, we cannot rule out the possibility of even stronger quakes in the future."

He also said the Ranau quake was caused by movements of the tectonic plates. Other than Ranau, many other parts of Sabah such as Kota Kinabalu and Kota Belud could also feel the tremor.

"Ranau is located in the interiors and although the quake did not trigger a tsunami, landslides could happen due to the aftershocks."

He said the region had so far experienced three relatively strong earthquakes after this morning's 5.9-quake.

Since Ranau is near to Mount Kinabalu, a renowned tourist destination in the country, Mohd Rosaidi urged the public to stay away from Mount Kinabalu for the time being for fear of landslides.

"From what I know, the quake also happened on Mount Kinabalu and several climbing groups have been stranded there because the road leading downhill has been destroyed."

In the meantime, Mohd Rosaidi also urged local residents to be wary of cracked walls, and consult the Fire & Rescue Department if they were doubtful whether their buildings were safe.

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