Malaysia Quake Strands Climbers on Mount Kinabalu

Kills 2, injures 11

Climbers began making their way down from the peak of Mount Kinabalu on June 5. (Wikimedia Commons)
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

A 5.9-magnitude earthquake struck the island of Borneo in Southeast Asia early Friday, killing two people, injuring 11, and stranding 137 climbers on the peak of 13,435-foot Mount Kinabalu, the AP reports.

The epicenter of the quake was near the town of Ranau, several miles southwest of the mountain, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. The AP reports that the initial tremors and aftershocks shook loose rocks that blocked the route, preventing the climbers from getting down. Lee Yoke Fah of Kuala Lumpur and his wife were descending when the earthquake hit. “Rocks [from the top of the mountain] were raining down fast, like rock blasting,” he told Bernama, the Malaysian national news agency.

NBC reports that the climbers, aided by park rangers and guides, are now making their way down the south side of the mountain to the Laban Rata climber’s hut. Jamili Nais, parks director for the island’s state of Sabah, told the AP that some climbers were expected back at base camp by Saturday morning. Nais also said that some climbers injured in the earthquake had been brought down from Kinabalu, but helicopters couldn’t land to assist evacuation due to the high altitude and fog. They’re instead hoping to drop supplies and warm clothes to the climbers, according to CNN.

Sabah’s police chief confirmed that there were two deaths but didn’t give further details on the victims’ identities. However, local media outlets, including Malay Mail Online, are reporting that rescuers recovered the bodies of who they believe to be a local guide and a female tourist from Singapore.

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