Seismicity in Malaysia and around the Region


Malaysia is close to the most two seismically active plate boundaries, the inter-plate boundary between the Indo-Australian and Eurasian Plates on the west and the inter-plate boundary between the Eurasian and Philippines Sea Plates on the east. Major earthquakes originating from these plate boundaries have been felt in Malaysia. Tremors felt along the west coast of Peninsular Malaysia are originating from large earthquakes in the active seismic areas of Sumatra and Andaman Sea. Malay Peninsula (e.g. Bukit Tinggi, Jerantut) and East Malaysia has experienced earthquakes of local origin. This local earthquake associated with active fault that exists in Malay Peninsula Sabah and Sarawak. Several possible active faults have been delineated and local earthquakes in East Malaysia appear to be related to some of them. In addition to the local earthquakes, East Malaysia is also affected by tremors originating from large earthquakes located over Southern Philippines and Northern Sulawesi.

Earthquake Terminology



   Felt Tremors

   Tremors felt in Malaysia


   Distance from the earth surface in kilometres


   The epicentre is the point on the earth’s surface    vertically above the hypocentre (or focus), point in    the crust where a seismic rupture begins


   The hypocentre is the point within the earth where an    earthquake rupture starts. The epicentre is the point    directly above it at the surface of the Earth.


   The magnitude is a number that characterizes the    relative size of an earthquake. Magnitude is based on    measurement of the maximum motion recorded by a    seismograph.


   Foreshocks are relatively smaller earthquakes that    precede the largest earthquake in a series, which is    termed the mainshock.


   Aftershocks are earthquakes that follow the largest    shock of an earthquake sequence.


   The intensity is a number (written as a Roman    numeral) describing the severity of an earthquake in    terms of its effects on the earth’s surface and on    humans and their structures.



Earthquake in Malaysia

On June 5, 2015, 7:15 am, one of the strongest earthquake occurred in Ranau, Sabah, Malaysia. The strong earthquake recorded at 5.9 Richter Scale. The earthquake epicenter is located at 6.1 North latitude and 116.6 East  longitude. Building damaged and casualties reported. During the strong earthquake, the one of the Donkey’s Ears Peak at Mount Kinabalu was reported damaged by the mountain climber.

Damage at the Donkey’s Ear Peak during 5.9 Earthquake. Source: The Star


What Should You Do During and After Earthquake

During Earthquake

If you are indoors:

  • Stay indoors! Take cover under a sturdy table, desk, bench or brace yourself in a doorway or corner.
  • Stay away from windows, books, china cabinets, heavy mirrors, hanging plants and other heavy objects, which may slide and topple.
  • Grab anything handy (coat, blanket, books, newspapers, cardboard box, etc) to shield your head and face from falling debris and splintering glass.
  • Do not use candles, matches or other open flames because of possible gas leaks. Douse all fires.

If in a high rise building:

  • Get under a desk or similar heavy furniture.
  • Stay away from windows.
  • Do not rush for exits.
  • Never use elevators as a power may fail.
  • Stay in the building on the same floor.

If you are outdoors:

  • Move to an open area cautiously away from power lines, power poles, trees, high buildings, walls, and lamp posts.
  • The greatest danger from falling debris is just outside doorways and close to outer walls.
  • Stay away from fallen power lines.
  • Stay in the open areas until the shaking stops.

If you are in a sidewalk near building:

  • Duck into a doorway to protect yourself from falling bricks, glass, plaster and other debris.

If in a crowded store:

  • Do not rush for a doorway or exit since hundreds may have same idea.
  • Move away from display shelves containing objects that may fall.

If in a moving car:

  • Stop the car quickly as safety permits in the best available space. However, do not stop on or under bridges or overpasses or overhead wires.
  • Stay in the car until the shaking stops.
  • When you drive after shaking, watch for hazards created by earthquake such as fallen of falling objects, downed electric wires or broken or undermined roadways.


After An Earthquake

  • Turn on the radio or television to get the latest emergency information. If electricity is down, turn on a battery operated radio.
  • Remain calm and assess the situation. Be prepared for additional earthquakes shocks called “aftershocks”. Although most of these are smaller than the main shock, some may be large enough to cause additional damage.
  • Check for injuries. When the shaking stops, there may be considerable damage and people may be injured. Administer emergency first aid when necessary. However, do not attempt to move seriously injured persons unless they are in immediate danger of further injury.
  • Check for fires and fire hazards. Put out fires immediately if you can.
  • Check for damage to utilities and appliances. Wear sturdy shoes. If you smell gas, open windows and shut off main valve. Do not light matches or use open flames. Use a flashlight.
  • Never touch downed power lines or objects touched by downed lines.
  • Check closet and storage shelf areas, but open doors carefully and watch out for falling objects.
  • Check to see if sewage lines are intact before flushing the toilet.
  • Immediately clean up spilled medicines, drugs and other potentially harmful materials.
  • Do not eat or drink anything from open containers near shattered glasses.
  • Do not use the telephone except to call for help, to report serious emergencies (medical,fire or criminal).
  • Stay out of severely damaged buildings. Aftershocks can shake them down.
  • Cooperate with public safety efforts. Do not go into damaged areas unless your assistance is required. Keep streets clear for passage of emergency vehicles.
  • Be reassuring and helpful to your children and others who may suffer psychological trauma from the earthquake.