Earth science should be made a school subject to better prepare the next generation for natural phenomena like Tuesday's tremors that sent Hongkongers running into the streets, an official and an academic said. Leaving home when the earth shakes is a natural instinct for most people but a senior scientific officer at the Observatory, Wong Wing-tak, said this could do more harm than good. 'During the first few minutes, it is safer to brace under cover inside the house than running out where you can trip during the commotion or get hit by falling objects,' he said. Residents across Hong Kong, including many at Tung Tau Estate, ran into the streets on Tuesday night when the tremors, originating from Taiwan, were felt in the city. Mr Wong said the panic was caused by a lack of experience and awareness of natural disasters. 'The less they know about something the more they fear it,' he said. 'I strongly believe that students should be taught more about natural disasters like tornadoes, earthquakes and tsunamis when they are young.' The formation and impacts of some disasters are part of the social and humanities education syllabus but for only a small proportion of students. However, the Education and Manpower Bureau said the proportion was reasonable and earth science would be made one of the four electives under the geography subject when the new senior secondary curriculum was introduced in 2009. Mr Wong said the observatory held public forums, seminars and exhibitions occasionally on the topic, but it was too costly to launch a publicity campaign especially when there was little likelihood of a strong earthquake in Hong Kong. Chan Lung-sang, associate professor in the department of earth science at the University of Hong Kong, said scientists predicted that Hong Kong stood a one in 10 chance of being struck by an earthquake with an intensity of 6 to 7 on the Richter scale over the next 50 years, which would demolish poorly built structures. 'Even if the chance is not big, people should still be prepared for the worst.'