Rescue operations are under way to reach tourists trapped on one of South East Asia’s highest mountains after a 6.0 magnitude earthquake struck.
Around 160 are stranded on Mount Kinabalu in Malaysia’s Sabah state on Borneo island, according to the state’s tourism minister Masidi Manjun. Mr Masidi said on Twitter that the track was impassable and helicopters could not land due to bad weather.
He added that some were injured and tremors had caused boulders to fall. All climbing activity on the mountain has been suspended. Mt Kinabalu, which stands at 4,095-metre (13,435 feet), is a popular destination for climbers from around the world.
The Sabah Fire and Rescue Department confirmed information that 195 foreign and local climbers and 43 guides were stranded on the mountain, and says it is still trying to make contact with some of the guides. Information from other guides put the number of those unaccounted for at 89, with the possibility of some climbers trapped and injured.
The department said it was continuously checking and updating information on those stranded. The trekking path from Kilometre 7.5 up the mountain to Laban Rata is impassable following a rockfall or landslide, which has also left 105 climbers and 32 guides stranded in that area.
At Laban Rata at 3,272m, a foreign woman climber is said to have suffered a broken leg. The department confirmed this information when The Malaysian Insider contacted it.
Meanwhile, State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun has confirmed that rescue operations are being launched for climbers stuck on the 4,095m-high mountain.
“Rescue operations under way at Mt Kinabalu. There were reports of climbers trapped and injured,” Masidi tweeted.
He also confirmed that some facilities on the mountain were badly damaged, such as climbers’ rest huts, and that all climbing activities had been halted for safety reasons as “loose stones and boulders” had been reported tumbling down the peak.
A 6.0 Richter earthquake according to the US Geological Survey struck Sabah at 7.15am today, in the Ranau district and some 54km from the state capital, Kota Kinabalu.
Apart from Kota Kinabalu, the tremors were felt in the northern Kudat and Kota Marudu districts, and as far away Beaufort in the south, while Twitter users said they felt tremors lasting 10 seconds.
A climber with the Facebook account Charlene Dmp posted photos of her group of a dozen climbers who were waiting on the plateau near the summit for a helicopter to rescue them.