Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun said a Malaysian, earlier listed as missing, was among the first batch climbers who arrived at the base of the mountain but his name was not recorded. He identified the climber as Kuala Lumpur-based travel agent Mohd Khairuladzuan Abdul Khalid, 39.
On Friday (5th June), an early morning earthquake a magnitude 5.9 earthquake hit near Ranau district, leaving the residents of most places in Sabah, including Ranau, Tambun, Tuaran, Pedalaman, Kota Kinabalu, and Kota Belud shaken. At that time, immediate damages caused by the earthquake could not be immediately ascertained, but there were climbers at Mount Kinabalu, Malaysia’s highest peak.
Amongst the hundreds of climbers were some Malaysians, as well as 29 students and 8 teachers from Tanjong Katong Primary School in Singapore.
According to the director of northern Malaysia’s Sabah Parks convervation area Jamili Nais, the tremor triggered crushing rockslides and knocked over boulders that killed those hiking on Kinabalu’s trails.
Many of the Singaporean students were attempting the popular Via Ferrata trail when the quake struck – a problem-free route but it has no vegetation on the rock face. Hence, when the quake struck, there was no shelter from the boulders crashing towards the climbers.
As of late yesterday (Sunday, 7th June) Masidi Manjun confirmed that Malaysian search and rescue personnel as well as Kinabalu Park guides found 5 more bodies on the mountain. He said the 2 missing climbers were a teacher and student from Singapore, and that they were still listed them as missing although it was possible that their remains were among the body parts rescuers had recovered so far.
“We hope the identification process can be concluded over the next few days,” he added.
— Hansanondiozu (@hansanondiozu) June 7, 2015
A full list of 18 deceased victims of the Mount Kinabalu earthquake has been posted in the search and rescue operations room.
They are as follows:
Lim Choon Seong, 45 (male)
Muhammad Logman Abd Karim, 22 (male)
Valerian Joannes, Mt Torq staff (male)
Ricky Masarin, Mt Torq staff (male)
Joseph Solugin, mountain guide (male)
Robbie Sapinggi, 30, mountain trainer (male, body recovered on Friday)
Rachel Ho Yann Shilin, 12, (female)
Sonia Jhala, 12, (female)
Emilie Giovanna Ramu, 12, (female)
Ameer Ryyan bin Mohd Aded, 12, (male)
Navdeep Singh Jayral s/o Raj Kumar, 13 (male)
Mohammad Ghazi b Mohamed, 35, (male)
Loo Jian Liang Terrence, 29 (male)
Muhammad Daanish b Amran, 22 (male)
Wee Ying Ping Peony, 12 (female, body recovered Friday)
Karyl Mitzi Higuit Matahom, 12, (female)
Ozaki Masahiro, 29 (male)
Lugi, 35 (male)
Masidi Manjun, who has been frequently updating his Twitter with information from the SAR operations, has also declared today (Monday, 8th June) a day of mourning in Sabah. The authorities, meanwhile, have decided to shut down Mount Kinabalu to climbers for at least 3 weeks.
Our thoughts and prayers are with those who were affected by the tragedy.
UPDATE (9th June, 1.10pm):
As a result of the quake, which caused the death of 7 children, the government of Sabah is considering the possibility of only allowing climbers above the age of 15 to trek Mount Kinabalu. Datuk Jame Alip, the Education Director of Sabah, said that he had discussed the matter with Datuk Masidi Manjun, the Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister and the issue will be brought up in their next official meeting. “We will bring it up in our next meeting. For me, 15 years seems like a more reasonable age,” he said.
Though the official Mount Kinabalu website encourages climbers to be at least 10 years old, Alip said that he didn’t know about it and was shocked to find out that the victims of the quake included primary school students:
We were not told about it. The slopes are steep and dangerous. I would not encourage children below 15 to climb the mountain.
In the same statement, Alip advised the Education Ministry to not only conduct fire drills for students, but to also introduce earthquake drills:
Students are generally taught that in an emergency situation, they should drop everything and run down the fire escape. But that only applies during fires. When an earthquake strikes, you do the opposite — you drop to the ground, take cover and hold on. The children must know this.