The day the mountain was shaken

Sabah pays tribute to those killed in the Kinabalu earthquake

Ridwan Mohd Taif remembers vividly the chaos in KOTA KINABALU.

He was a fireman on the east coast of Lahad Datu, and he had returned to his village, Kampung Laing, about 3km away from the town district.

Ridwan said, “I was in the room when it shook violently and rocked my house.”

“I was only concerned about saving my family, and I rushed them to an open field near the house.

As we fled, I saw all of our household goods and belongings scattered on the floor. “We were thankful that the earthquake caused no structural damage to our home,” said Ridwan. Ridwan is now the Ranau Fire and Rescue Station Chief.

He was referring to the 6.1-magnitude quake that hit Sabah’s hilly Ranau District nine years ago. The quake killed 18 people and damaged many homes.

Ridwan is among those who attended a solemn service to remember the victims of the earthquake that struck on June 5, 2015. The memorial was held at Kiau Gap View and Timpohon Gate in Sabah Parks, located at the Kundasang Highlands, approximately 92km away from Sabah’s capital.

The attendees observed a moment of silence in front of a brass plaque on which were etched the names of 18 victims.

Ridwan laying a flower on the brass plaque near Timpohon.

The plaque was placed about 2km away from Timpohon Gate. This is the point where climbers begin their ascent of Mt Kinabalu (4101m), the highest mountain in Malaysia.

Four Sabahan mountain guide were also killed in the quake.

On Wednesday, the heads of the departments of the Sabah Parks district office, the district hospital, the police force and the information department were also present.

Ridwan, a dedicated fireman said that he felt moved to assist in the search-and-rescue operations after he learned there were trapped victims on the mountain.

He said that at the moment, after he had summoned all of his manpower, the department was able to have enough people on the ground.

“We extend our condolences and sympathy to all of the families. Ranau Fire Department is grateful to all those who were involved in this incident.

The ceremony was held in memory of the 18 victims who lost their lives and to honor the next-of-kin.

This tragedy serves as a reminder that standard operating procedures for climbing Mount Kinabalu should be improved.

He said that “a number of new facilities will be built, including a mountain climbing training centre at the summit as well as the Layang-Layang Hostel at KM4 on the climb route.”

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