TAWAU: News of an earthquake in the Moluccas Sea sent shivers to Sabah east coast folk, who fled their homes last night after a tsunami alert was sent out.
Hundreds of people living at coastal areas here and Lahad Datu fled to higher grounds after news of a possible tsunami was aired over radio and television stations.
Although police tried to assure them that there was no tsunami, the people remained frightened and only returned home after midnight.
Tawau is 973km from the epicentre of the quake, measuring 7.6 on the Richter scale.
The Malaysian Meteorological Department had issued a statement at 9.40pm, saying the earthquake at the Moluccas Sea, 222km southeast of Manado, Indonesia, had occurred at 7.27pm and six aftershocks had been detected.
It advised people living in coastal areas in Sabahs south and east not to go near beaches until 11.30pm.
Yesterday’s quake was the second in two days.
Last Saturday night, a moderate earthquake with a magnitude of 5.6 on the Richter scale occurred in the Sulawesi.
People left in buses, lorries, cars and walked towards the hillsides after hearing news reports of a possible tsunami, Tawau district police chief Asst Comm Idris Jikon said when contacted late last night.
Police advised the people to return to their homes after 11.30pm as there was no tsunami threat.