Malaysia mountain quake: Eleven dead and eight missing

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Mount Kinabalu is photographed hours after a magnitude 5.9 earthquake shook the area in Kundasang, Sabah on 5 JuneImage source, AP
Image caption,
The aftermath of the quake near Mount Kinabalu was captured on camera

Eleven people have died and eight others are missing after an earthquake near Malaysia's highest peak, a minister for tourism has said.

The bodies were recovered from Mount Kinabalu, on the island of Borneo, after a 6.0 magnitude quake triggered landslides.

Some 137 climbers were stranded on the mountain for several hours but have now made it to safety.

Local media say a Singaporean girl and a local guide are among the dead.

Sabah tourism minister Masidi Manjun tweeted: "The 137 climbers have safely arrived at the Park HQ, the last batch at 2.50 am."

He later confirmed that 11 bodies had been found and rescue teams were searching for eight people still unaccounted for.

The earthquake was so powerful it also snapped off one of Mount Kinabalu's "Donkey's Ear" peaks, Mr Manjun added.

Bad weather hampered rescue efforts on Friday, preventing helicopters from landing on the mountain. Many of the climbers had to make their own way down with the help of tour guides and park rangers.

Some of the group had climbed to the summit to watch the sunrise as the earthquake struck.

Image source, Charlene Dmp/Facebook
Image caption,
One Facebook user posted this picture, apparently showing her group stranded
Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Mount Kinabalu, which stands at 4,095m (13,435ft), is popular with climbers

The US Geological Survey said the quake happened at around 07:15 local time (00:15 BST), at a depth of 10km (32,800ft). The epicentre was 54km (33 miles) from Mount Kinabalu, which stands at 4,095m.

Many climbers are attracted to the challenging "via ferrata" climbing route, where cables, metal rungs and bridges are set into the rocks on the steep terrain to help people ascend.

All activity on the mountain has now been suspended.

Image source, Getty Images

Climbing Mt Kinabalu

  • Climbing up and down Mt Kinabalu takes on average two days and one night. There are two trails - the Summit trail and the more advanced Mesilau trail
  • The Summit trail begins at Timpohon Gate (1,800m; 5,906 ft)
  • It takes about 6-8 hours to reach Laban Rata (3,273m; 10,738 ft) where climbers rest for a few hours
  • They usually depart for the summit at 02:00 in the morning, reaching it 4-5 hours later before descending the mountain

Earlier, one person apparently trapped on the mountainside said on Facebook: "Currently we're waiting for the helicopter to save us.

"We cannot go down for now because there are lots of stones falling, there's no safe route down, and there are still tremors. Thank you for all your concern and prayers."

The woman identified herself as Charlene Dmp.

The quake also damaged roads and buildings, including schools and a hospital on Sabah's west coast.