5.2 quake rocks Sabah

The climbers gathering at Laban Rata on Mt Kinabalu after the earthquake shook the mountain. All climbing activities on the mountain have been suspended temporarily.

KOTA KINABALU: A 5.2 magnitude earthquake, with its epicentre at 16km south west of Ranau, jolted the interior and west coast of Sabah at 9.06pm yesterday.

Following the incident, Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Panglima Masidi Manjun ordered a temporary suspension of all climbing activities on Mount Kinabalu.

He said via his Twitter account that the decision was made acting on the advice of Sabah Parks director Dr Jamili Nais, as well as in the interest of safety.

Universiti Malaysia Sabah students gathering in a field outside their hostels.

“All climbers and mountain guides are to return to Park Headquarters immediately,” he said.

Climbers, guides and staff on Mount Kinabalu were safe, said Jamili when contacted via WhatsApp after the quake.

“Everyone on Mount Kinabalu is safe. We may close the summit climbing tomorrow because we need to check the summit trail at daybreak.”

Jamili said: “There are 130 climbers, 42 mountain guides, six mountain search and rescue team members, four porters and 11 Sabah Park staff at Laban Rata at the moment.

The climbers rushed down to the safety point at Laban Rata following the quake, he said.

There were no reports of any casualties or damage in the 9.06pm incident, said former Mt Kinabalu Mountain Guides Association president Richard Soibi.

“Rocks could be heard falling but not sure which part as it is currently dark in Laban Rata,” said Mountain Torq staff Barryferor Benjamin.

Barryferor, 32, is working at Pendant Hut, an accommodation for climbers engaging in the via Ferrata activity.

Groceries falling off shelves at a shop in Kota Belud.

“I was preparing to go to the bed when the quake happened. It was strong, but we all remained calm. I did not see anyone injured.

“We are currently waiting for Gomesour turns to go down. Sabah Parks gives the priority to the climbers and their guides to go down followed by the staff,” he said.

“Estimated to arrive around 3am, hopefully everyone are safe,” he added when contacted around 10.40pm last night.

Kundasang residents said that it was quite a strong shake that lasted two to three seconds.

“I was watching television when suddenly my chair was shaking,” said Sebastian Ang in Ranau.

The tremors were felt on the western face of Mt Kinabalu, all the way from Kota Belud, Tamparuli, Kiulu and the city here as well as in Penampang and Papar.

Meanwhile, the relevant authorities were still assessing the damages caused by the 5.2 magnitude earthquake .

The epicenter of the earthquake.

A spokesperson for the state Fire and Rescue Services Department said a special team from Kota Kinabalu had been deployed to Ranau to assess the situation and provide backup to their counterparts.

“We received many phone calls from the public asking about the earthquake but as of now, we have not received any reports of damage to buildings here in the state capital,” said the spokesperson when contacted by Borneo Post yesterday.

The earthquake was also felt in Kota Kinabalu, Kolombong and Penampang for about five to six second.

It was however learnt that the tremors was mostly felt by residence on high rise buildings.

The earthquake brought back grim memories of the tragic incident three years ago when a 6.1 magnitude earthquake shook Mt Kinabalu and triggered an avalanche that killed some 18 climbers and mountain guides.

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