21 October 2016
Stranded climbers on Mount Kinabalu. Photo:The Star
Stranded climbers on Mount Kinabalu. Photo:The Star

Rescuers search for missing climbers after Malaysia earthquake

Rescuers continued to search for six climbers on Malaysia’s highest peak on Sunday after recovering 16 dead from a strong earthquake that had trapped scores of trekkers.

The victims were six Malaysians, one from the Philippines, China and Japan, and seven Singaporeans, including children who were on a school trekking trip, Reuters reported.

A magnitude-5.9 earthquake on Friday sent rocks and boulders raining down the trekking routes on 4,095-meter-high (13,435 feet) Mount Kinabalu in eastern Sabah state on Borneo island.

Most of the other climbers made it down the mountain in the darkness early Saturday, some with broken limbs and one in a coma, the Associated Press reported.

Amanda Peter said her group of 21 climbers decided to walk after a frustrating nine-hour wait for a helicopter. Local guides had told them a helicopter would pick them up but it never came.

“There were risks of us dying up there of cold overnight,” AP quoted the 23-year-old Sabah native as saying. “The guide said we either die of waiting or we die trying. So we all chose to try walking down ourselves.”

She said she saw two bodies lying on a flat rock on the way down. “It really affected me as it could have been me. I was lucky to be given a chance to live,” she said.

She said the descent was “very risky and we were all starving, dehydrated and tired but at least we tried saving ourselves”.

In Singapore, the prime minister’s office said the children caught in the quake were from Tanjong Katong primary school, according to Reuters.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong declared June 8 a day of national mourning.

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