SINGAPORE, June 7 — Six children from a primary school in Singapore have been identified among victims of an earthquake in Malaysia as authorities recovered more bodies from Mount Kinabalu.
The remains of a teacher and a Singaporean adventure guide accompanying the students were among those recovered, while another teacher and a pupil remain unaccounted for, the city-state’s Ministry of Education said today. An 80-member search and rescue team is focusing its efforts on a section of Mount Kinabalu that has been dubbed a “river of stones” because of its impassibility after the quake, Sabah’s Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment Masidi Manjun said on Twitter.
“Operations are continuing to locate the remaining one student” and teacher, the education ministry said. “Arrangements are being made for the family members and the bodies of the deceased to be flown back to Singapore as soon as possible.”
Twenty-nine students and eight teachers from Tanjong Katong Primary School were on a field trip to Kota Kinabalu. Of these, seven students and two teachers were missing or have been found dead.
The remains of Peony Wee Ying Ping, a 12-year-old student who was the first to be identified, will be flown back to Singapore today.
The father of Arnaav, an 11-year-old boy who took part in the school’s team-building trip, said his son broke an arm and a shoulder. The children and their teachers trekked more than three hours to get to rescue officers after bad weather hampered plans for a helicopter to airlift the injured from a helipad at 10,000 feet, said the man, who would give only his family name, Chabria.
“I was happy to see my son, but worried about the rest,” Chabria said. He said he tried calling the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for assistance but didn’t receive a response. “Hats off to every teacher and staff at the school.”
Search-and-rescue operations for climbers on Southeast Asia’s highest peak are under way after an earthquake with a magnitude of 5.9 hit the Malaysian state of Sabah on the northwest coast of Borneo island Friday. According to the US Geological Survey, the quake was centred just south of Mount Kinabalu.
The temblor occurred around 7.15am local time, when climbers tend to descend after reaching the summit in the early hours of the morning, said the Malaysian Meteorological Department. In recent years, Sabah has experienced minor earthquakes, it said.
The death toll on the mountain has risen to 13, with authorities searching for 6 more missing climbers, The Star reported yesterday, citing Farhan Lee Abdullah, Ranau district’s police chief.
Singapore has sent a team of counsellors, as well as officials from the police, civil defence force and transport ministry to assist. — Bloomberg