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Malaysia quake: Singapore and Sabah mourn victims


Singapore and Malaysia’s Sabah state are observing a day of mourning for those killed in the Mt Kinabalu quake.

Sixteen people are confirmed dead after the magnitude 6.0 quake, which hit the mountain in Sabah on Friday.

Among the dead were six Singaporean children on a school trip, along with their teacher and guide.

In Singapore, flags are at half-mast and a minute’s silence was observed at venues for the Southeast Asian Games, which the city-state is hosting.

At the weekend, Sabah Deputy Chief Minister Joseph Pairin Kitingan linked the earthquake to a group of 10 foreigners who had earlier stripped naked on Mt Kinabalu.

He said the tragedy was a “confirmation” that they had showed “disrespect” to the mountain. “It is a sacred mountain and you cannot take it lightly,” he told reporters.

Authorities have identified some of the tourists and ordered border officials to be on high alert if they tried to leave Sabah.

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Mount Kinabalu is one of South East Asia’s highest peaks and a popular trekking destination.

Nationals on the mountain at the time the quake struck early on Friday were from China, the United States, the Philippines, the UK, Thailand, Turkey and Japan.

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One Japanese and one Chinese tourist were reported killed.

The Singaporean dead have been named as six students and their teacher from the Tanjong Katong Primary School (TKPS) and a Singaporean adventure guide.

They were among 30 pupils and staff climbing the mountain in the state of Sabah on Borneo island as part of an educational trip. A teacher and a student are still missing.

“Our hearts go out to their families, and to the TKPS community,” Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said in a statement, praising the children for “striving to stretch their limits and take on new challenges”.


More than 130 people were rescued or escaped. Many had to make their own way down with the help of tour guides and park rangers.

The US Geological Survey said the quake happened at around 07:15 local time (23:15 GMT) on Friday, at a depth of 10km (32,800ft). The epicentre was 54km (33 miles) from Mount Kinabalu, which stands at 4,095m (13,435ft).

The tremor was so powerful it also snapped off one of Mount Kinabalu’s “Donkey’s Ear” rock formations.

It also damaged roads and buildings, including schools and a hospital on Sabah’s west coast, but there were no reports of casualties.


Climbing Mt Kinabalu

  • Climbing up and down Mt Kinabalu takes on average two days and one night. There are two trails – the Summit trail and the more advanced Mesilau trail
  • The Summit trail begins at Timpohon Gate (1,800m; 5,906 ft)
  • It takes about 6-8 hours to reach Laban Rata (3,273m; 10,738 ft) where climbers rest for a few hours
  • They usually depart for the summit at 02:00, reaching it 4-5 hours later before descending the mountain

The ‘conquerable’ Mt Kinabalu

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