• 4 Pinoys rescued in Mount Kinabalu

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    AT least four Filipinos were among dozens of hikers rescued on Mount Kinabalu in Sabah, which was jolted by a magnitude 6.0 earthquake that killed at least 11 people and left eight others missing.

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    The Philippine Embassy in Kuala Lumpur identified the Filipino climbers as Mary Nicole Gail Angeles, Kenneth Cueto Almonte, Anna Rose Gumantaron and Michael William Echevarria.

    The embassy said it is monitoring the Filipino community in the area.

    “As of the moment, the Embassy has not received news of any Filipino adversely affected by the earthquake. Nevertheless, we are closely monitoring developments and stands ready to provide assistance,” Vice Consul Francis Herrera said in a statement.

    Foreign and local tourists were trapped on Mount Kinabalu after the temblor.

    On Saturday, Malaysian rescuers brought 137 hikers down to safety.

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

    The quake, one of the strongest in the country in decades, jolted a wide area of the Malaysian state of Sabah on Borneo island, shattering windows, cracking walls, and causing other relatively minor damage.

    “The 137 climbers have safely arrived at the Park HQ, the last batch at 2:50 a.m.,” Sabah state tourism minister Masidi Manjun said Saturday on his Twitter feed.

    The stranded climbers had been stuck on the picturesque mountain for up to 18 hours, their descent blocked by damage to a key trail and the threat of continuing rockfalls.

    “We have a challenging task today searching for those missing,” Masidi said. Hours earlier, he confirmed there had been fatalities.

    He gave no details on the numbers of dead, injured or missing.

    But Malaysian media reports said a local tour guide and a Singaporean female had been killed on the mountain.

    The Star newspaper quoted Sabah fire and rescue authorities saying 16 people were missing.

    On Friday, Singapore’s Education Ministry had said the whereabouts of eight students and two teachers from the country who were part of a school excursion to the mountain remained unknown.

    The Kinabalu Today news portal quoted search and rescue personnel saying most on the mountain at the time of the quake were Malaysian but they also included hikers from Singapore, the United States, the Philippines, Britain, Thailand, Turkey, China and Japan.

    Authorities have indefinitely halted all climbing on Mount Kinabalu, which looms over a state famed for its rainforests, wild rivers and coral reefs, and is among its central tourism attractions.

    The force of the tremor was so strong that it snapped off one of the two large “Donkey’s Ears”, towering twin rock outcroppings that form a distinctive part of the peak’s craggy profile, officials said.

    Strong earthquakes are rare in Malaysia, which lies just outside the Ring of Fire, the belt of seismic activity running around the Pacific basin.

    AFP

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