Bracing for possible effects of a tsunami that hit their neighbor Japan earlier, East Asian countries are raising earthquak and tsunami alerts and racing against time to evacaute people from areas expected to be hit by high tusnami waves.
In Malaysia, residents of Sabah and Labuan islands have been advised to stay away from the coast due to rough seas and high sea level expected to occur between 6pm and midnight local time Friday but no tsunami warning was issued.
Malaysian Meteorological Department issued the reminder following the strong earthquake which hit northeast of Japan this afternoon.
The 8.9-magnitude earthquake hit the northeast coast of Honshu, Japan at 1.46pm, at 4,434km north-east of Kudat, Sabah. The earthquake triggered a tsunami in Japan.
In Philippines, hundreds of people in coastal areas in three northern Philippine provinces started moving to higher ground after the government raised its tsunami alert. The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) upgraded its tsunami alert to level 2, advising people to stay away from shorelines in eastern coastal areas.
Phivolcs Head Benito Ramos, however, said that no actual number of people to be evacuated in the provinces of Cagayan, Isabela and Batanes, but local officials have started moving them to safety. He added that army trucks had been placed on standby in case the alert level was raised further.
Disaster officials said some communities on the southern island of Mindanao had also started fleeing coastal areas facing the Pacific Ocean.