Thursday, April 12, 2012

Thumbs up for swift move

Onlookers risking their lives by going near the beach despite the tsunami warning in Kuala Muda, Kedah.

WELL PREPARED: Kota Kuala Muda villagers praise police and Civil Defence Dept

EXCEPT for a few hiccups, residents of Kota Kuala Muda gave the thumbs-up to government agencies which sprung into action when tremors shook the fishing settlement on Wednesday.

Siti Minah Mahmud said she was very thankful to members of the Civil Defence Department for moving her bedridden husband to safer grounds swiftly.

"I panicked when the tremors hit our village and the first thing that came to mind was my husband's safety," said the 62-year-old housewife, whose house in Kampung Kepala Jalan near here was among five villages flattened by tidal waves when a tsunami, caused by a 9-magnitude earthquake off Sumatera, hit the settlement on Dec 26, 2004.

The four other villages devastated then were Kampung Tepi Sungai, Kampung Masjid, Kampung Kedai Tepi Sungai and Kampung Padang Salim.

Zainab Awang, 51, from Kampung Tepi Sungai said she and some 500 villagers were treated to some snacks and supper by the Welfare Department at a makeshift evacuation centre at the nearby SK Kota Kuala Muda.

However, she said there was some confusion on what they were supposed to do after the tremors hit their villages in the 5.30pm incident.

She said the announcement on the radio was only on the earthquake in Sumatera and an imminent tsunami, which might hit their villages.

"We were scared of what happened to us eight years ago, so my family and I as well as our neighbours panicked and quickly fled to higher grounds."

Once outside, Zainab said there was no one to lead them and they finally decided to go to the school, where they were surprised to find Welfare workers busy preparing to turn it into a relief centre.

She said although firemen and policemen had stirred into action, nobody seemed to know what should be the next course of action for the villagers.

"We just followed the crowd and fortunately, tsunami did not hit our villages. The authorities could have made things easier for us if we were told what to do."

The announcement over the radio and television was only a public announcement on the earthquake.

The authorities would have directed for a major evacuation if there was imminent danger.

Among the 68 Malaysians killed in the 2004 tsunami, 12 were from the fishing settlement.

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