Updates as of 6pm:
Authorities clarified the identities of the two people killed in the earthquake yesterday on Mount Kinabalu, clearing up a discrepancy involving a Singaporean victim.
Ranau district police chief deputy superintendent Farhan Lee Abdullah said that the two bodies brought down yesterday at 8.25pm and 8.45pm were that of 30-year-old mountain guide Robbie Sapinggi and Wee Ying Ping Peony, 12 from Singapore.
“We have informed the families of the victims and sent their bodies to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital for post mortem,” said Farhan at a Press conference today.
It was initially reported that Sabah Parks had announced on its Facebook page that the Singaporean victim was a Rachel Ho Yann Shiuan, also 12.
Farhan said some 20 others sustained various injuries, from broken limbs to one who is believed to be in a coma.
“One was sent to the Ranau district hospital but most have been sent to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Kota Kinabalu,” he said.
Yesterday’s 6.0 magnitude earthquake some 16km north of Ranau rocked the famed Mount Kinabalu causing cracks in its surface, damaging building structures including accommodation atop the mountain and covered its trails with fallen rocks.
Some 150 climbers were trapped on the mountain for hours, with most making their way down by 3.30am the next day with the help of mountain guides and other rescue teams.
“Out of the 187 tourist climbers, 173 are accounted for. We are now missing 17 people,” said Farhan.
The 17 are believed to include eight Singaporeans, six Malaysians including three mountain staff, and a Chinese, a Filipino and a Japanese national.
Nine of the 17 — eight students and one teacher — are part of a 40-strong entourage from Tanjong Katong Primary School who were on an excursion to Mount Kinabalu and were believed to be on the Via Ferrata rope obstacle route when the earthquake occurred.
Today, the search continues via land and air, with some 60 people going on foot at 5.30am and four helicopters dispatched at 6am to comb the area where the victims were last seen around KM6.5 to 7.5.
“We are hopeful of finding the victims today, and will not rest till we find the last victim. That is our promise,” said Farhan.
Yesterday, search and rescue communications revealed that some 10 climbers and two mountain guides were reported unconscious along the Via Ferrata route.
Updates as of 2pm:
Nine more bodies have been recovered on Mount Kinabalu, pushing the death toll following Friday’s earthquake to 11.
Eight people are still unaccounted for and at least one climber is in a coma while others have suffered broken limbs.
At a joint media conference on Saturday (June 6) Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun said Police have a forensics team on stand by to identify the bodies that would be airlifted out of the mountain.
Ranau police chief Deputy Supt Farhan Lee Abdullah, who said they they were awaiting for the weather to clear on the mountain for helicopters to fly out the bodies.
AFP reported that Malaysian rescuers brought 137 hikers to safety after they had been stuck on the mountain for up to 18 hours. Their descent was slowed by damage to a key trail and the threat of rock fall.
Aftershocks are still being felt in the area.
The mountain will be also be closed for at least three weeks. Masidi said it would enable Sabah Parks to take stock of the damage and determine the necessary repairs that had to be carried out.
“Our overriding concern has always been the safety of the climbers,” he said, adding they were planning an interfaith religious ceremony on the mountain that will also include rituals of the ethnic community.
The earthquake happened at 7.15am Friday (June 5).
Updates as of 10:48am:
According to Sabah Park Facebook post, the two bodies has been identified as follows:
1). RUBBI SAPINGGI, Male, 30 years old, Mountain Guide, TGL KG KIAU, KOTA BELUD. Sabah
2). RACHEL HO YANN SHIUAN, Female, 12 years old, Student, Singaporean
Also, they have rescued one boy from Tanjong Katong Primary School. View it here
(Source: SABAH PARKS FACEBOOK)
Updates as of 1:02am:
All students and teachers of Greenridge and Fuchun Secondary Schools have returned to Singapore at 12.20am on Saturday (June 6), the Ministry of Education said in a statement.
Updates as of 12:31am:
At least two people, a Sabahan guide, Robbi Sapinggi, and an unnamed Singaporean woman, according to a doctor who bumped into her lifeless body on the way down.
A second body was brought down via Timpohon Gate at 8.45pm but Sabah Parks officials have remained tight-lipped about her identity.
It is not immediately known if that is the body of the woman.
However, whispers among Sabah Parks staff hint that the second body was that of an unnamed 12-year old Singaporean girl.
In a tweet at 9.56pm, Minister of Tourism, Datuk Masidi Manjun said: “it is with much regret that I have to inform that there have been fatalities at Mount Kinabalu.
“Details will be announced tomorrow (Saturday).”
Earlier, Masidi and even the police had been denying that there were fatalities at the peak of Mount Kinabalu, following the 7.15am earthquake that hit Ranau.
Robbi was identified by his fellow guides who said that he bled to death after being hit by a boulder.
They said he managed to push away the climbers he had under his charge but was unable to escape the falling rocks and boulders.
Until now, Ranau residents and those living in nearby Kundasang and Kota Belud have reported experiencing light tremors.
According to a local reporter covering events at Timpohon Gate, they all felt a much heavier tremor just before 10.00pm.
Meanwhile, a national daily is suggesting that up to 10 people are unconscious, while three guides are stuck in between boulders and rocks.
This however could not be confirmed.
As of 7.00pm, Search and Rescue officials at the foothills of Mt Kinabalu said of the 189 tourists and guides registered with the Sabah Parks, 63 of them – including three injured climbers – reached the Kinabalu Park base camp before darkfall.
As of 7.42 pm 130 of the climbers have reached Panar Laban, among them are several guides from Sabah Parks.
The SAR said the majority of those on the mountain are Malaysians and the other known nationalities included Singaporeans (38) United States (5), Philippines (5) United Kingdom (3), Thailand (4), and at least one each from Turkey, China and Japan.
In an earlier statement, Masidi said the lives of the people stranded on Mount Kinabalu are utmost on his mind at the moment.
When asked by reporters including the foreign media such as CNN on the impact of the incident to the Sabah tourism industry, Masidi said:
“The tourism industry (for now) is the last thing on my mind.
“The most important is to know that the victims are alive and we hope there won’t be fatalities,” he said.
Those who were found by rescuers have been led to Laban Rata, the place where they will stay for the night, before going down to Timpohon Gate at first light Saturday.
Updates as of 11:45pm: The first of two bodies of earthquake victims at Mount Kinabalu was brought down to the base camp at about 8.30pm on Friday.
The remains of local mountain guide Robi Sapinggi, 30, was first brought down from Laban Rata where he was found trapped in between rocks.
The second body is believed to be a Singaporean female teenage.(Unconfirmed source)
The casualties are expected to increase as rescuers continue to reach an area where 10 people were reported to be unconscious at the Via Feratta route on the mountain. Three other guides are also trapped among boulders in the same area.
Officials said they were racing against time to reach the other unconscious people trapped since the 7.17am earthquake on the western side of Mount Kinabalu.
Also trapped in the plateau were 105 people whom rescuers were trying to carve a path through fallen boulders and rocks to bring them down.
(Source: THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK)