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Jan 23, 2005
French official praises S'pore's relief efforts

SINGAPORE'S efficient relief efforts in Sumatra more than impressed veteran French bureaucrat Jean-Francois Deniau, who toured the tsunami-affected region recently with the French Navy.

Mr Deniau, who arrived in Singapore yesterday morning, spoke to The Sunday Times before flying off today for Mauritius.

The former French cabinet minister and Le Figaro columnist, who is in his 80s, said he wanted to convey his impressions of the professionalism of Singapore's relief efforts to the authorities here.

'Some organisations from other countries were there but they didn't know what to do. But Singapore, you are very efficient. You knew what you had to do and you had the right equipment. You speak the language and it was then easier to get directly into the job.'

He added: 'It was absolutely well-organised. Your people are first-class.'

Mr Deniau, who works with humanitarian organisations like Medecins Sans Frontieres and Medecin Du Monde, spent eight days in Banda Aceh, Meulaboh and some of the smaller islands off Sumatra, like Nias, travelling onboard the French helicopter carrier Jeanne d'Arc.

'In Europe it was a big shock about Thailand, because that's where many of the European tourists were killed. But Sumatra is the most destroyed place.'

The French have been criticised for their late arrival on the scene.

But Mr Deniau said: 'The ship was in the Suez Canal. It's a long way. And the Jeanne d'Arc, she's an old lady. She's not very fast.'

He added that French emergency aid arrived in Sri Lanka just a few days after the disaster struck.

Mr Deniau, who is the honorary chairman of Care France, said that while the contribution of the state was important - for example, in providing ships and helicopters - providing the money for rebuilding was the job of the non-governmental organisations, which have received many donations from the public.

'Announcing the figures is one thing,' he said. 'To really deliver the aid in action is another.'

His idea to help rebuild Sumatra is to give the fishermen money to build or buy new boats.

'It's important to let them be able to get back to normal life. It wouldn't be expensive but it would be a positive and direct action.' -- Sharlene Tan
 

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Memorial service for tsunami victims

ABOUT 200 devotees gathered at the Sri Lankan Mangala Vihara Buddhist Temple in Jalan Eunos Road yesterday to remember those who had died in the Dec 26 tsunami disaster.

A steady stream of people offered flowers and candles at the bodhi tree on the temple compounds, as a token of remembrance for the dead.

The congregation also lit candles and observed a minute's silence. Volunteers sold orchids and Chinese New Year goodies to raise funds for reconstruction efforts.

Monks from Thailand, Myanmar and Sri Lanka recited special prayers in the service jointly organised by several Buddhist temples and societies - including Mangala Vihara, Wat Ananda Metyarama, Buddhist Fellowship, Palelai Buddhist Temple and Burmese Buddhist Temple.

Addressing the congregation, the Singapore High Commissioner to Sri Lanka, Mr Tan Kah Ho, recounted the devastation he saw at the disaster-stricken areas.

He praised those gathered for showing moral support to the disaster victims. 'I'm sure if those affected by the disaster could see us here supporting them, they would be very comforted.'

His Sri Lankan counterpart, Mr Ajit Jayaratne, also thanked Singaporeans. 'I hope the sutras will go a long way in providing solace for those who have departed.'
 

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Jan 26, 2005
'Yes' to buffaloes, 'no' to sunglasses

Singapore mindful of local culture when giving aid to tsunami survivors in Meulaboh
By Tertiani Zb Simanjuntak


IT CAME as no surprise when the trucks full of soldiers with familiar faces passing along the main streets of Meulaboh on the west coast of Aceh were greeted by waving children and adults yelling 'Singaporeans, Singaporean soldiers have arrived'.

As the first of the foreign troops to enter Meulaboh, almost 80 per cent of which was devastated by the Dec 26 disaster, the Singaporean defence force has paved the way for the rehabilitation and reconstruction of the small town.

Life has gradually been returning in the harbour town. While few fishermen are brave enough to set out to sea, the town has been almost completely cleared of rubble and flotsam, while the market and stores have reopened.

'The town is getting busier day by day - traffic jams everywhere. It's a good sign,' Colonel Tan Chuan Jin, who commands the entire relief operation being mounted from three Singaporean warships - the RSS Endurance, the RSS Persistence and the RSS Endeavour - laying at anchor off Meulaboh, told the Jakarta Post.

The neighbouring country immediately responded to the disaster by sending medical supplies and other forms of assistance to Aceh's capital city, Banda Aceh, and Medan in North Sumatra. The Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) later decided to focus relief efforts on Meulaboh, where access by road had been cut by the tsunami.

The unarmed troops have been busy restoring the shore and roads and cleaning up the city. They have also constructed two landing pads for helicopters.

Following the reopening of the road from Medan and the construction of the helipads, more relief workers and aid supplies have been arriving in Meulaboh.

The SAF initiated a coordination system with the Indonesian authorities in Meulaboh, ensuring that non-governmental organisations (NGOs) brought in only what the displaced people and locals actually needed.

From the RSS Endurance, Col Tan commands 'Singapore's biggest military operation ever', organising the work of up to 800 personnel, including medical teams and members of the Singapore Red Cross and NGOs.

He also has at his disposal six Chinooks and two Super Puma helicopters, dozens of bulldozers, diggers, excavators, forklifts, tractors, trucks and other vehicles.

Despite the humid and sunny weather of the coastal area, none of the soldiers wears sunglasses, especially among locals, as they find it 'rude and un-Asian'. The fatigue endured by the soldiers, who are mostly conscripts and have to travel from the vessel to shore every day at 7am and sail back at 5pm before completing their duties on board by 10.30pm, was quickly dispelled by the well wishes and prayers sent by Singaporean elementary school students.

Scaling down their operation in Meulaboh, which started on New Year's Eve, the soldiers sailed off on Jan 21 after the Muslim troops among the contingent celebrated the big day (Hari Raya Haji) with locals. The SAF contributed 20 buffaloes to be slaughtered for the festivities at several camps.

'We have set up a system here which can be continued by other organisations that have better capabilities than we have and will continue to deliver humanitarian assistance from Singapore and various NGOs and international organisations,' Col Tan remarked.

The Singaporean troops have also established a temporary command centre that can be used by whoever takes their place 'as a symbol of the start of reconstruction in Meulaboh'.

'Although we were the first to arrive, it doesn't mean we're the last to stay. I hope it means the relationship between the two countries is getting stronger,' Col Tan said.

This article appeared in the Jakarta Post on Jan 20.


LEAVE-TAKING WITH WELL WISHES: A Singaporean soldier giving his final salute as the RSS Endurance leaves Meulaboh after completing its mission to help with relief efforts. The operation, which involved more than 800 personnel, started on Dec 31. -- TERENCE TAN
 

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Jan 26, 2005
OPEN LETTER FROM SRI LANKAN ENVOY TO SINGAPOREANS
Thanks for exceptional gesture of friendship


AS I prepare to return to Sri Lanka at the end of my stay in Singapore as High Commissioner, I am moved to share a few thoughts with the people and Government of Singapore.

The spontaneous outpouring of support and sympathy for Sri Lanka's tsunami victims will always remain etched in my memory as an exceptional gesture of humanity, friendship and generosity.

Singapore and Sri Lanka have, in contemporary times, developed strong commercial, political and cultural ties. But what I witnessed following the disaster of Dec 26 goes beyond conventional relations between states.

The momentum of help grew rapidly as individuals, companies, religious organisations and government agencies donated money and critical supplies, such as generators, energy lamps, medicine and food packs, and sent medical and relief personnel to help us in our crisis.

To date, the Sri Lanka High Commission in Singapore has dispatched 23 container loads of valuable supplies. A further 27 container loads have been sent by Buddhist, Christian, Hindu and other religious groups and organisations, as well as many, many individuals.

This effort continues, with even Singapore bands and the music community at large organising concerts next month and in March to raise funds for Sri Lanka's relief and reconstruction programmes.

The devastation in the tsunami-struck countries is immense. It is hard to come to terms with the thought that over 185,000 people across Asia have lost their lives; many, many thousands are listed as missing and many more left homeless.

But out of this tragedy has emerged the great human qualities of courage among victims and profound sympathy and the compelling wish to help in some form among those who witnessed these tragic events, as Singapore has so graciously demonstrated.

We have to move forward. We will, with your compassion and support. Fortunately, our non-coastal areas escaped devastation and economic activity has resumed with considerable vigour, particularly our tourist industry.

Our major tourist locations remain unscathed. The historic Cultural Triangle in the north central part of the country, the hill country with its plantation vistas and adventure-sports facilities, the wildlife parks, and cultural and religious sites offer overseas visitors a fine alternative for holiday travel.

The people of Singapore can help us in our renewal efforts by visiting Sri Lanka. It will also provide the opportunity to see for yourselves how your assistance and support have been deployed in our hour of crisis.

We welcome you. Your visiting our country as holidaymakers will not be viewed as being insensitive to our suffering. On the contrary, you will be helping us enormously because we will draw strength from your presence.

On leaving you to return home in due course I will take with me the memories of your remarkable spirit of generosity and true friendship which have been a source of great comfort to all of us in Sri Lanka.

You have reached out and touched our lives in our darkest hour. You have reinforced our belief in the goodness of humankind. We shall not forget.

Thank you, Singapore.

Ajit Jayaratne
High Commissioner
High Commission of Sri Lanka
 

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Singapore to set up earthquake study centre

8 April 2005



SINGAPORE : Singapore plans to set up an earthquake centre within a year as part of efforts to establish an early-warning system for tsunami in the Indian Ocean.

Working on the project are the Meterological Services, National University of Singapore and Nanyang Technological University.

Cracked edges and broken walls - these are all in a day's work for research staff at the Protective Technology Engineering Laboratory.

Among other things, they simulate earthquakes on a so-called "Shaking Table" to see how different structures respond to ground movements.

The laboratory is currently the biggest in Asia outside Japan conducting earthquake research.

All these might not sound useful when it comes to predicting earthquakes and warning people about tsunami, but they can tell how to make our homes and buildings stronger to withstand the earth's movements.

Professor Pan Tso-Chien, Director of Protective Technology Engineering Laboratory at NTU, said: "Having seen how earthquakes happen, the first thing that people feel is actually the ground motion. Then later, there will be the water waves. So when ground shakes, buildings vibrate. We need to make our buildings stronger and safer for people living inside."

Studying buildings is the tail-end of an earthquake analysis.

The centre also studies the front-end of a tsunami - undersea earth movements between plates that can lead to giant waves.

After last December's tsunami disaster, Singapore and Sri Lanka have requested tsunami warnings from Japan.

Indonesia have signed up with Germany, while Thailand and India are building their own networks.

Professor Pan added: "Having looked at all the initial set up, I'm sure we will all learn how to work as a regional grouping because we do have the information that are common knowledge that need to be shared. So eventually, inevitably I'm sure we will all be in one coherent group." - CNA
 

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S'poreans shaken by fresh tremors

11 Apr 05

TREMORS were felt in many areas across Singapore yesterday evening, after an earthquake measuring 7.3 on the Richter scale off the west coast of Sumatra.

The quake's epicentre was about 120km south-west of the city of Padang.

The Meteorological Services Division of the National Environment Agency said the quake struck about 6.30pm.

It caused tremors in the central, eastern and western parts of Singapore. Aftershocks meant many residents in these areas felt more tremors about 45 minutes later.

Many of them called police and The Straits Times, with the police alone receiving about 700 calls.

They said the tremors were quite strong, and lasted from several seconds to a minute.

Trainee teacher Gabriel Tan, 34, said: 'It was as though there was a wave right under our feet. We could hear the furniture moving.'

The resident of Regent Court, a condominium near Serangoon Road, said 'We've never experienced tremors before, so we were very surprised, especially since we were sitting on solid rosewood chairs. It felt as if they were on a bus.'

Over on the east coast, pre-school teacher Jemima Mittra, 40, said the experience was frightening.

She was cleaning her 13th floor apartment in the Costa Rhu condominium, in Rhu Cross, when the tremors hit.

She thought she was dizzy, but realised it was a tremor when she saw her chandelier swinging and bed-stand shaking.

'I thought I was falling ill. My neighbour, who was alone with her three kids, was petrified,' she said.

Elsewhere, residents of several high-rise blocks evacuated their homes, afraid that the buildings were in danger.

However, police said there was no cause for alarm.

The quake, centred about 700km south-west of Singapore, caused many in Padang to flee for higher ground.

But the American-run Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre in Hawaii said there was no threat of massive tsunamis from yesterday's quake.
 

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11 April 2005

Some parts of Singapore more prone to tremors: experts

By Rita Zahara/Sharon Tong, Channel NewsAsia

SINGAPORE : National Development Minister Mah Bow Tan has said over 127 buildings were inspected and declared safe after Sunday's tremors.

Experts says some areas in Singapore are more prone to tremors than others.

This explains why some Singaporeans are getting to be experts when it comes to knowing what to do when the earth shakes, while others have never felt the effects of earthquakes that hit neighbouring countries.

Some Singaporeans are still shaken by the tremors that hit the island recently due to earthquakes in Sumatra.

More than 700 calls were made to the police after the latest tremors on Sunday night.

"The first two or three occasions we ran downstairs, but this time we learnt a lesson. We asked those who have been to Taiwan and experienced earthquake before. They said the best thing is to lean against a pillar," one person said.

The earthquake measuring 6.8 on the Richter scale hit the west coast of Sumatra, about 700 kilometres from Singapore.

Tremors were felt by Singaporeans in the northeast, central and eastern parts of the island, including the East Coast, Toa Payoh and Tanjong Rhu.

It is usually these same areas that feel the ground move.

The explanation is "soft rock".

Said Associate Professor David Higgit, a geologist at the National University of Singapore, "At the general level in Singapore, the west of Singapore is mainly solid rock, the east is mainly unconsolidated sediment, and in particular in the central part of Singapore, we have sedimentary material called the Kallang formation, which includes marine clay. These are relatively soft sediments and the vibration from the earthquakes can accelerate through those sediments that cause vibrations to be felt in buildings."

While buildings in the west are built on hard rock, those in the eastern and central parts of Singapore stand on soft rock.

So if you live in these areas, you are more likely to feel tremors than those who live in buildings built on granite.

NUS, for example, sits on what is known as hard rock.

Like NUS, the soil conditions of Bukit Timah, Choa Chu Kang and Woodlands are also made up of hard rock.

According to geologists, the tremors will slow down in hard rock conditions and will speed up in softer ground.

Despite the tremors, you do not need to worry: experts explain that Singapore lies 400 kilometres away from the nearest earthquake fault line, so whatever tremors will only be minor vibrations.

This point was made by Mr Mah, who told reporters that Singapore's buildings are built to withstand "lateral movements".

"I just want to reassure Singaporeans that our buildings are safe. There will be movements if there are earthquakes nearby but rest assured that they are safe and there is no need to worry," Mr Mah said.

Engineers inspect buildings after reports of tremors; those inspected after Sunday's quake are all structurally sound. - CNA

Copyright © 2005 MCN International Pte Ltd
 

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Tremors felt, but no injuries

15 May 05

TREMORS were felt in some parts of Singapore yesterday at about 1pm.

Police received about 140 calls from members of the public. There have been no reports of any injury or damage.

The Meteorological Services Division of the National Environment Agency said the tremors were caused by an earthquake near Nias in northern Sumatra, approximately 500km from here.

The quake measured 6.9 on the Richter scale.

Ms D. Prabhavati, 23, felt the tremors in her residence at Toa Payoh Lorong 7, and said they lasted about a minute.

'They made me feel quite giddy,' said the 23-year-old clerk.

Officers from the Building and Construction Authority and the Housing Board inspected about 45 buildings, and found them to be structurally sound.

The police said that buildings here can withstand tremors from distant earthquakes. But if cracks appear, residents should call the HDB (6275-5555 or 6354-3333, 24 hours) or the BCA (1-800-221-9001, during office hours).
 

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I still hadent felt a thing yet....so far...
 

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me too i have never felt !

but i have felt before at indonesia :D

very shacky!
 

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Heh! Well...I might have felt one or two many years ago...I remember ever being woken up from bed before in the middle of the night and feeling the bed shaking...but I felt it was my head having problems!
 

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huaiwei said:
Heh! Well...I might have felt one or two many years ago...I remember ever being woken up from bed before in the middle of the night and feeling the bed shaking...but I felt it was my head having problems!
If you are sleeping on double deck bed.....then that could mean something else.......:lol: :jk:
 

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EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
 
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