Mountain guides stay calm amid second Ranau quake

Rescuers assist climbers down from Panar Laban following the quake in Ranau. —Bernama pic
Rescuers assist climbers down from Panar Laban following the quake in Ranau. —Bernama pic

KUNDASANG, March 9 — Mount Kinabalu mountain guides remained calm to control the situation when a moderate earthquake affected the mountain area for the second time last night.

Mountain guide Jemain @ Jabili Midin, 50, said  even though the quake experienced was not as strong as the 2015 earthquake, he was still fearful.

“However, I remained calm for the climbers there (Panalaban).

“In such instances, we (guides) usually bring climbers to a gathering location to calm them,” he told Bernama when met at Taman Kinabalu here.

Jemain, is among 42 mountain guides of Laban Rata Resthouse in Panalaban, a stopping point for climbers before the ascend to the peak of the 4,095 metres mountain.

Ranau was jolted with a 5.2 magnitude earthquake at 9.06pm last night.

The tremors could also be felt in other districts such as Kudat, Tuaran, Papar, Kota Marudu, Kota Kinabalu and Kundasang.

For mountain guide, Hanson Juhili, 35, who experienced the earthquake in Panabalan for the first time, he found it hard to describe the terror that he felt during the incident.

“What could we do? Thankfully, no one was injured.

“In such a critical situation, mountain guides need to remain calm. Priority is on the safety of the climbers,” he said.

Another mountain guide, Jomius Binte, 54, said even though some of the climbers were traumatised by the quake which lasted about six seconds, he was grateful that the situation in Panabalan was under control.

“After safely descending to Timpohon Gate (starting point for the climb), we were provided with food.

“During that time, I saw that many of the climbers were very exhausted. Some fell asleep at the table, and some even headed straight to their hotel accommodation,” said Jomius, adding that most of the climbers were locals, as well as from Korea and Europe.

He said it was understood that two female climbers who suffered from acute mountain sickness (AMS) during the descent had been sent to the Ranau Hospital for treatment.

The incident was also confirmed by the Sabah Fire and Rescue Department.

A total of 239 people, including 130 climbers who were stranded at Panalaban during the incident, were led by the Mountain Search and Rescue Team in the descent which started at 9.40pm.

The rescue operation ended around 4.30 am today.

Meanwhile, Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun issued a directive for the temporary suspension of all climbing activities at Mount Kinabalu, with immediate effect.

A Bernama survey revealed that the situation at Timpohon Gate was quiet, with no activities being carried out.

The situation at Taman Kinabalu was also reportedly calm, with most of the climbers boarding tourist vehicles to return to Kota Kinabalu.  

The weather in Kundasang this morning is also sunny and daily activities in the town have resumed as usual. — Bernama

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