Wednesday, August 21

Monument unveiled to mark Mt Kinabalu earthquake tragedy

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KUNDASANG: Kinabalu Park yesterday officially unveiled a monument to mark the first anniversary of the worst earthquake to have taken place at Mount Kinabalu.

The monument made of a brass plaque etched with the names of those who perished and mounted on a slab of granite made from a boulder that chipped off the top of the mountain during the quake, was unveiled to the media and family of the victims in a solemn ceremony yesterday.

Park officials, led by Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun, hosted the ceremony at the site of the monument at Kiau view point, about a kilometre up from the starting point of the recently reopened hiking trail at the mountain.

The ceremony started with a one-minute silent prayer for the quake victims followed by wreath laying by Masidi. Others also laid flowers at the monument.

Masidi said the monument was symbolic and reflects the people’s sorrow over the tragedy and serves as reminder that the safety aspects in mountain climbing must be continuously improved.

The minister also led a tree-planting initiative at the memorial site in memory of the four mountain guides who died during the quake.

The early morning 6.0 magnitude quake killed 14 climbers and four mountain guides descending the mountain, making it the worst ever disaster in the Park’s history.

Those killed were mountain guides, Joseph Solungin, Ricky Masirin, Robbi Sapinggi and Valerian James. Also listed on the plaque were Malaysians climbers, Lim Choon Seong, and Muhammad Loqman Abdul Karim. The others were Singaporeans Ameer Ryyan Mohd Adeed Sanjay, Emilie Giovanna Ramu, Matahom Karyl Higuit, Terrence Sebastion Loo Jian Liang, Muhammad Ghazi Mohammed, Muhammad Daanish Amran, Navdeep Singh Jaryal Raj Kumar, Rachel Ho Yann Shiuan, Sonia Jhala and Peony Wee Ying Ping. Also memorialized on the plaque were Japanese Masahiro Ozaki and Chinese national Lu Qi.

Meanwhile, a heartfelt ceremony was held earlier at Laban Rata by the family members and friends of the Singaporean students and teachers who were killed in the quake.

Channel NewsAsia reported the group of 20 climbers paid their tributes to the seven students, two teachers and their guide who were at the mountain in a leadership building expedition when the quake struck.

The ceremony was led by Karen Jhala, mother of the student, Sonia. Jhala and her husband, Jaidip, read out the names of the 10 who were lost. Grief briefly overcame Jhala as she finally read out her daughter’s name.

Notes written by students, parents and teachers from Singapore were also read out. Names of the deceased written on pebbles were also displayed during the ceremony.

During the ceremony, which was broadcast via Facebook Live by Channel NewsAsia, heartfelt messages of condolences and support also poured in from members of the public.

Some family members present also took the opportunity to say their final words before the ceremony ended.