KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - More than 130 climbers were stranded on one of Southeast Asia’s highest mountains on Friday after an earthquake rocked parts of the Malaysian state of Sabah on Borneo island, a rescue official said.
There had been some injuries and media reported one or two people may have been killed, but there was no official confirmation.
The U.S. Geological survey said the epicenter of the six-magnitude quake, which struck in the morning, was about 54 km (33 miles) from the state capital of Kotare Kina.
Foreign and domestic hikers flock to Sabah to climb the 4,095-metre (13,435 feet) Mount Kina, where at least 137 people were trapped, the state’s fire and rescue department told Reuters.
So far 52 climbers had made it down safely, Mod Affined Ramming, the public relations officer for Sabah Fire and Rescue department, said.
Climbers from 16 countries had been on the peak, including 117 Malaysians, 38 Singaporeans, five Americans, four Dutch, three British, two French and two Australians, he said. There were also tourists from Belgium, Thailand, the Philippines, Kazakhstan, India, New Zealand, South Korea, Denmark and China.
“There was a small landslide that cut off access through the usual route up the mountain. Because of this, some people are stuck there and cannot come down. ...They are waiting to be rescued,” Mod Affined said.
Officials said, and media pictures showed, that the mountain’s landmark Donkey’s Ears twin peaks had been badly damaged in the quake. Media had reported one or two deaths in the quake and an official said there had been rumors of five to 10, but none has been confirmed.
Several rescue teams and villagers were searching for alternative access routes, officials said, but a helicopter search had to be called off because of poor weather. Drops of food, water and warm clothing were being prepared.
“Rescue operations under way at Mt Kina,” Masidi Manjun, Sabah’s minister for tourism, said in a post on Twitter.
It was not clear how seriously the tourists had been injured but the minister said all climbing had been canceled as loose boulders were still falling.
Editing by Nick Macfie