KOTA KINABALU, March 9 — All 239 people on Mount Kinabalu, including 130 climbers, 48 mountain guides and 33 Sabah Park staff, were safely evacuated from the mountain following a 5.02 magnitude earthquake that struck the foothills of the mountain last night at 9.06pm.
The State Fire and Rescue Services Department said that those atop the mountain were accompanied by trained rescuers and the first batch arrived at Timpohon Gate at 1.28am while the last batch arrived at 4.19am.
“Two women were suffering from Acute Mountain Sickness during the descent and were carried piggyback style down the mountain, but they were monitored closely,” it said in a statement here this morning.
The Mountain Search and Rescue team, which was mooted after a deadly earthquake in 2015, assisted in the evacuation process.
Typically, Mount Kinabalu climbers start a hike up the mountain early in the morning and have to spend a night at Panar Laban before making the trek up to the summit at about 2am.
Sabah Parks director Dr Jamili Nais said last night that climbers were evacuated following the earthquake while being escorted by guides for safety purposes.
However, this morning, the situation was calm and there was no sign of damage as of 8.30am. He will be heading a trek up to Panar Laban do damage assessment of the trail up Mount Kinabalu.
“We need six hours from now to come up with a preliminary announcement,” he said when contacted.
He also confirmed that some parts of the trail sustained damages as a result of the quake but remains passable.
He announced last night, that as a precautionary measure that the mountain will be closed off to climbing activities pending checks to the trail and any danger factors cleared.
The meteorological department said that the 5.2 earthquake epicentre was about 16km north of the mountain and a 5km depth. Tremors were in Ranau Kota Belud, up the western coast through to Kota Kinabalu and further up to Kimanis and Papar.
According to the Ranau district police, no casualties or damages has been reported so far.
“The situation appears to be as normal as of now,” said a spokesperson.
Meanwhile, Universiti Malaysia Sabah geologist Prof Felix Tongkul has cautioned the public residents to be prepared for more aftershocks from the earthquake but also told people not to be believed in rumours of impending earthquakes.
“No one can predict when the next earthquake will occur,” he said.