Tremors from Indonesia's quake felt in Singapore

Vimita Mohandas, Dylan Loh, Hetty Musfirah Channel NewsAsia 11 Apr 12;

SINGAPORE: Tremors from Indonesia's 8.6-magnitude quake were felt in several parts of Singapore on Wednesday.

Two Singapore flights to Phuket, Thailand, were affected by the closure of the Phuket International Airport, due to tsunami warnings.

SilkAir flight MI 756 departed Singapore at 4.45pm but had to turn back. Another SilkAir flight, MI 758, was supposed to have left at 6.35pm, but had been delayed.

Several callers to the MediaCorp hotline said they felt the tremors over at Marine Parade, Beach Road, Bukit Panjang, Bendemeer Road, Farrer Road and Whampoa Road.

They added that the tremors were not as bad as those experienced in previous years.

Devi Singh, a Bukit Panjang resident, said: "It was about 4.50pm. I was on the computer at home with my mum-in-law and husband when suddenly I felt giddy while at the computer. My husband went to lie down, he thought he was also feeling giddy.

"But when I looked up, I saw the light swaying from left to right. And this (lasted) about 60 seconds. There were two other tremors that lasted for about 20 seconds.

"We did not leave the building because we'd felt similar tremors before - the other time (when) there were earthquakes and tsunami. So we stayed put in the building."

A Whampoa resident, Tan Chi Ming, also said she felt the "shakes". She said she rushed to her dad's room and saw the chandelier on his ceiling shaking violently. "We just felt a bit of shaking, then it stopped in about three to five minutes," she added.

Office workers at a nine-storey building along Beach Road were also among those who felt the tremors.

Those on higher floors were apparently more affected and rushed down for safety.

"Most of us on the seventh floor could actually feel the tremors. I felt very giddy initially, sort of like a rocking boat. We were all quite alarmed," said office worker Janet Patt.

"I saw that everything was just shaking... the hanging lights were shaking. So we just evacuated, all of us," said another office worker.

Staff eventually returned to their offices about 20 to 30 minutes later, after receiving the green light from a building maintenance personnel.

"He also mentioned that he did check the surroundings of the building to make sure there were no cracks... so that was his assurance to us that we can actually go back to the office," said office worker Tan Chou Yen.

The Singapore Red Cross said it is in contact with counterparts in Indonesia and is monitoring the situation.

It has also offered assistance and is on standby to mobilise resources, if necessary.

- CNA/al/cc

Police and SCDF receive 38 calls about tremors
S Ramesh Channel NewsAsia 11 Apr 12;

SINGAPORE: The Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) and the police on Wednesday said they received 38 calls from the public about the tremors caused by the strong earthquake off Sumatra, Indonesia.

In a joint statement, they said earth tremors were reported in certain parts of Singapore at about 4.43pm.

The Meteorological Services confirmed that an earthquake occurred at about 4.38pm in Northern Sumatra, approximately 1,242 kilometres from Singapore.

The US Geological Survey (USGS) had initially reported it as an 8.9-magnitude quake, but later revised it to 8.6.

Police said some of the areas where the tremors were felt included the Central Business District (CBD), Beach Road, Temasek Boulevard, Selegie, Toa Payoh, Ang Mo Kio, Serangoon North, Punggol, Woodlands, Geylang Bahru, Geylang and Siglap.

There were no reports of injury or law and order incident.

The Building & Construction Authority (BCA) and the Housing & Development Board (HDB) have also completed inspections of 30 buildings in the affected areas, and they have been found to be structurally safe.

No new reports of tremors have been received following the latest aftershock in Sumatra.

Police and SCDF said there was no cause for alarm.

The SCDF also advised the public to remain calm, should they experience any tremors.

If they are inside a building, they should take cover under a table, keep away from items made of glass or any hanging object.

They are also urged not to use an elevator and not to use any naked light in case there is a gas leak.

If they are out in the open, they should minimise their movements and stay away from buildings, street lights and utility wires.

After vibrations have stopped, they should stay away from any exposed electrical cables and report on any gas leakage.

- CNA/al/cc

Tremors from Sumatra quake felt in many parts of Singapore
Ng Jing Yng Today Online 12 Apr 12;

SINGAPORE - The impact of the earthquake in the waters off Aceh was felt here, some 1,240km away, as residents in many parts of Singapore experienced tremors.

At Beach Road, some office workers rushed out of their workplaces as a precaution. Said Ms Koh Siew Kiang, 45, an executive who was working on the eighth floor of a nine-storey building: "My colleagues and I felt some movement which lasted for about a minute. We decided that it will not be safe to stay in the office anymore ... A lot of other people in the building also started streaming down and everyone waited for a while before returning to work."

Mr Nicolas Chemin, 29, stayed put in his 15th floor office at Shaw Tower. Said the senior manager: "As I was working on my computer ... the frames on the wall were moving slightly and you could also see water in the dispenser spinning a little."

Ms Devi Singh, 55, was at home in Bukit Panjang when she saw her ceiling lights "swaying from left to right". She added: "It lasted for roughly around 60 seconds."

According to the Meteorological Services, the tremors were reported about five minutes after the earthquake occurred at about 4.38pm (Singapore time) in Northern Sumatra.

The police and the Singapore Civil Defence Force said they received 38 calls from the public reporting the tremors. "There were no reports of injury or law and order incidents," the authorities said in a statement.

The Building and Construction Authority and the Housing and Development Board conducted checks on 30 buildings in the affected areas and they were found to be structurally safe.

Some flights to Phuket from Changi Airport were cancelled or re-scheduled after the Thai authorities temporarily shut down its Phuket international airport.

The National Environment Agency (NEA) reiterated that given Singapore's location, the Republic and its surrounding islands were unlikely to be affected by any tsunami generated by yesterday's earthquake. Advising the public not to be alarmed, the NEA added that it has a tsunami early warning system in place and a public advisory will be issued if there was any risk of Singapore being affected.

Singapore Red Cross (SRC) secretary-general Benjamin William said the SRC has offered immediate assistance to its Indonesian counterparts. While there is no confirmed report of casualty and damages, the SRC remains on standby to mobilise resources if necessary, he added.

Tremors felt in various parts of Singapore
Elizabeth Soh Straits Times 12 Apr 12;

SINGAPOREANS felt the floor move beneath their feet yesterday as aftershocks from an 8.6-magnitude earthquake off Indonesia shook high-rise buildings and homes near the coast.

Tremors lasting two to three minutes each were reported at around 5pm by people across the island, from residents in Ang Mo Kio, Toa Payoh, Serangoon North and Geylang Bahru to office workers in the Central Business District.

The Meteorological Service yesterday confirmed that an earthquake struck Northern Sumatra at 4.38pm, about 1,240km away from Singapore.

Mr Bernie Chew evacuated his employees on the 10th floor of Capitol Building in North Bridge Road when he felt the floor move.

'It started with a swaying and then stopped and started again, like the feeling you get when you feel dizzy,' the businessman, who is in his 30s, said. 'I've experienced earthquakes before but I didn't believe that I would feel it in Singapore.'

About 30 people evacuated The Bencoolen building in Bugis Street after feeling the tremors. 'At first we were wondering what was happening,' said auditor Hemavathi Panneerselvam, 24, who works on the ninth floor.

He added: 'It's my first time experiencing tremors. I could feel myself moving, but it wasn't so scary because they were light.'

The management of the 16-storey Capital Square building in Telok Ayer Street broadcast a message telling tenants not to worry.

Marine Parade residents felt the strongest tremors, but most did not get too anxious as it was not the first time they had experienced them.

'I was on the computer working when I saw my curtains swaying and felt the tremors,' said home tutor Susan Lim, 53, who lives on the 24th floor of a condominium near East Coast beach. 'I was not scared as I have experienced this a few times before.'

Others in Woodlands, Bendemeer, Punggol and Hougang also described swaying floors and furniture. Executive Iris Yee, 55, who works in the Whampoa area, said the tremors were so bad she felt like throwing up. 'I felt like I was spinning,' she said.

Housewife Geraldine Yap, 32, was taking a nap in her 14th-floor flat in Punggol when the tremors hit. 'I thought that I was suffering from a vertigo attack as I was lying down but the room seemed to be swaying from left to right. My kids were really scared and started crying.'

Earth Observatory of Singapore director Kerry Sieh said that although the quake could turn out to be one of the biggest in 40 years, Singaporeans had no cause for worry as the distance between Sumatra and Singapore is too great for the quake to have any impact on structures here.

'It is highly unlikely that there will be any damage here,' he said.

The National Environment Agency has a tsunami early warning system and it said it will issue a public advisory if there is a risk of Singapore being affected.

'Given our location, Singapore and its surrounding islands are unlikely to be affected by any tsunami generated by this earthquake,' said a spokesman.

The police and Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) received 38 calls reporting the tremors.

They advised the public to stay calm and take cover. There were no reports of injury.

The Building and Construction Authority and the Housing Board inspected 30 buildings in the affected areas, and found them to be structurally safe.

In 2007, a 6.7-magnitude earthquake hit Sumatra, causing tremors that were felt in the East Coast area, Toa Payoh and the Central Business District.

Additional reporting by Peter Wong, Justin Lee and Jose Hong

Early warning system around Indian Ocean comes up to scratch
Straits Times 12 Apr 12;

WHEN the Indian Ocean tsunami struck in 2004, the only warning most people in the region had was the sight of a giant wave heading towards them.

This time, however, most of the 27 nations bordering the ocean were better prepared.

An early warning system put in place in most countries in the region was quick to transmit information to alert the authorities to a possible tsunami, its duration and its magnitude.

Within minutes of yesterday's 8.6-magnitude earthquake off Indonesia's Banda Aceh in Sumatra, most of the nations had issued warnings urging people to move to safety away from coastlines, before later cancelling them.

Thailand's National Disaster Warning Centre, India's Tsunami Warning Centre and Malaysia's Meteorological Department were quick to take action after Indonesia issued the first warning.

Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Reunion Islands, Kenya, Madagascar and Tanzania soon followed suit.

'The early warning system is working well' and there were no reports of casualties or damage in Aceh and elsewhere, Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said in Jakarta.

Besides commencing evacuations along the coasts, the authorities in some countries closed ports, suspended train services and cordoned off beaches. Emergency services such as rescue teams and hospitals were put on high alert while constant monitoring of the situation carried on for the next two hours.

Loudspeakers, sirens, SMSes and radio and TV announcements were used to warn residents to remain alert and move to higher ground.

The warnings evoked painful memories of the Dec 26, 2004 tsunami, also caused by an undersea earthquake off Indonesia that killed around 230,000 people along coastal regions.

But they also brought into focus the usefulness of early warning systems which were put in place within two to three years of that Boxing Day tsunami by most countries scarred by the tragedy.

Most systems have pressure sensors in place on the sea floor which measure the weight of the water above it. The weight varies according to wave height - and the findings are sent to a buoy on the surface, seismologist Kerry Sieh, director of the Earth Observatory of Singapore, told The Straits Times.

These buoys then transmit data to satellites which in turn send the information to official laboratories. 'The whole pro-cess takes 20 minutes at the most,' Professor Sieh said.

A number of buoys already in place in the Indian Ocean sent data to various laboratories after yesterday's quake.

The World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) said communication systems set up after the 2004 tsunami appeared to have worked well.

'Our records indicate that all the national meteorological services in the countries at risk by this tsunami have received the warnings in under five minutes,' said Dr Maryam Golnaraghi, the head of WMO's disaster risk reduction programme, Associated Press reported.

Such systems can be very useful in averting major disasters in future, said Dr Mohammad Ismail H, who runs a voluntary Integrated Tsunami Watcher Service site in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu.

Yesterday, his volunteers received hundreds of text messages and phone calls inquiring about the tsunami.

'This is one of the most important services for the future,' he said.