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11 dead, 8 missing after quake jolted Malaysia peak

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Updated: 00:00 GMT, Jan 1, 1970 | Published: 07:13 GMT, Jun 6, 2015 |
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A strong earthquake that jolted Malaysia’s Mount Kinabalu killed at least 11 people and left another 8 missing, an official said today (Saturday), as authorities continued to search for survivors on Southeast Asia’s highest peak.

The 6.0-magnitude quake struck early yesterday (Friday) near the picturesque mountain, a popular tourist destination, sending landslides and huge granite boulders tumbling down from the 4,095-metre (13,435-foot) peak’s wide, jagged crown.

“From Kinabalu park management, I want to express my condolences to the families of the victims,” said Masidi Manjun, tourism minister for the Malaysian state of Sabah on Borneo island, as he announced the toll at the mountain park’s headquarters. Masidi said authorities were not yet ready to release the identities of the dead and missing. Malaysian media reports said they included members of a Singapore primary school group on an excursion to the peak, including a 12-year-old girl who was killed.

Malaysian rescuers earlier today (Saturday) finished bringing down to safety 137 hikers who were stuck on the mountain for up to 18 hours, their descent blocked by damage to a key trail and the threat of continuing rock falls. Most on the peak when the quake hit were Malaysian but they also included hikers from Singapore, the United States, the Philippines, Britain, Thailand, Turkey, China and Japan. A Malaysian climbing guide was among the dead, but authorities have not provided details on the injuries suffered by victims.

The quake, one of the strongest in the country in decades, jolted a wide area of Sabah state, shattering windows, cracking walls and sending people fleeing from buildings in the nearby state capital of Kota Kinabalu.

Mount Kinabalu is sacred to the local Kadazan Dusun tribal group, who consider it a resting place for departed spirits.