M'sian buildings designed after 2017 ready to withstand earthquakes, says don

KUALA LUMPUR: Most of the new government buildings designed after 2017 are ready to withstand earthquakes, says Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) Engineering Seismology and Earthquake Engineering Research group leader Prof Dr Azlan Adnan.

Azlan, who is also a lecturer in the Structure and Materials Department in UTM's School of Civil Engineering, said, however, that older buildings built before that may face the risk of suffering severe damage from earthquakes.

"When the six-magnitude earthquake occurred in Ranau, Sabah (in 2015), most of the buildings were badly cracked, there were also buildings that were not designed properly, there were broken beams and buildings that could no longer be used.

"The government wanted to produce a building design standard for withstanding earthquakes and the research team that I’m leading succeeded in producing the design," he said when contacted by Bernama recently.

Azlan said among the things that needed to be seen in building design standards include building beams that should be able to bear the load horizontally due to earthquake tremors; having beam foundations that are stiff and rigid and having joints between columns and beams that are more flexible.

According to Azlan, the height of the building will also affect the natural frequency of the building and the "resonance effect" when an earthquake occurs.

Azlan said his team expected a five-magnitude earthquake to occur in Peninsular Malaysia and because of that, they needed to produce standard operating procedures for building designs that could withstand the effects of the natural disaster.

"Areas near the Klang Valley, Bukit Tinggi (Pahang), Kuala Pilah (Negri Sembilan) and Manjung (Perak) have active faults where we still have not been able to see the actual movement. We predict that a magnitude five (earthquake) could occur in the Peninsula,” he said.

Apart from that, he said his team was also in the process of producing a design standard for bridges to withstand earthquake tremors, with the research funded by the Malaysian Standards Department.

"In Malaysia, no one has produced a standard for bridges, if there is a design, they may have used the standards of other countries, we have not enforced (a standard)," he said.

On Feb 25, when tremors from an earthquake in Bukit Tinggi, Sumatra, Indonesia, were felt in the country, a total of 34 building emergency calls were received by the Fire and Rescue Department from around the Klang Valley.

The UTM Seismological and Earthquake Engineering Research Group studies the possibility of earthquakes in the country as well as the level of tremors that could occur, in addition to fault movement and tremors from underground to the earth's surface.

The group also studies the effects of earthquakes on the earth's surface on buildings built in Malaysia. - Bernama

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