Malaysia earthquake death toll at 16, searches continue
Tourism minister says two still listed as missing, body parts recovered
Bouquets of flowers and messages in memory of the victims from an earthquake on Malaysia’s Mount Kinabalu on a table at the Tanjong Katong Primary School in Singapore on June 7th, 2015. Photograph: Roslan Rahman/AFP/Getty Images
Malaysian authorities said on Sunday 16 bodies had been recovered from the country’s highest peak Mount Kinabalu after a magnitude 6 earthquake caused landslides and aftershocks.
Minister for tourism, culture and environment Masidi Manjun told reporters in Kinabalu park that two people were listed as missing and that body parts had been found.
The search and rescue operations would continue on Monday, Mr Manjun said.
Some climbers managed to make it down but more than 130 from 16 countries had been stranded on the mountain on Borneo island when the quake struck on Friday.
Rescue and recovery operations have been hampered by rubble and thick clouds which prevented helicopters from quickly retrieving the bodies.
“KM6.5 of the route was dubbed ‘river of stones’ when earthquake struck early Friday which rendered the track impassable, trapping climbers,” Manjun said on Twitter.
In Singapore, the prime minister’s office said the children caught in the quake were from Tanjong Katong primary school.
Prime minister Lee Hsien Loong declared June 8th a day of national mourning.
“State flags on all government buildings will be flown at half-mast,” the prime minister said on a Facebook post.
Malaysia’s deputy prime minister Muhyiddin Yassin said the country needed its own earthquake monitoring centre.
“In the latest incident, no one issued any warning. It may happen again and we do not have a department responsible to monitor impending disasters here,” state news agency Bernama quoted him as saying.
The US Geological Survey said the epicentre of the quake was about 54 km from the state capital of Kota Kinabalu.