As local mountain guides are going above and beyond their duties to rescue several injured climbers by carrying them down from Mount Kinabalu, Sabah Fire and Rescue Department director Nordin Pauzi today announced that SAR teams are doing their best and hoping to find and recover the remains of the earthquake victims
Nordin, in an interview with Singapore news portal The Strait Times was quoted as saying that the focus of the SAR team would be on the mobilisation of manpower and logistics using helicopters.
“Hopefully, we are able to complete the SAR mission in seven trips. So far, four helicopter trips have made seven trips to Mount Kinabalu starting 8am,” he said.
“Since we have mobilised recovery efforts in full force, we hope to transport the remains to the airport by evening. Four bodies were collected from Paka today. We would then make an ascend to Laban Rata to continue the search at a higher spot.”
Meanwhile, the Penang state government plans to donate RM100,000 in aid of victims affected by the earthquake that struck Sabah on Friday, said CM Lim Guan Eng, adding that the proposal would be raised at the executive council meeting next week as a sign of solidarity, sympathy and support for victims of the disaster.
"I want to express my condolences to the families of those killed. The loss of life, especially for those who climbed up Mount Kinabalu, is something very sad," he told reporters after presenting prizes to winners of the Komtar Tower Run 2015, here on Sunday. Lim said the donation will be passed to an elected representative in Sabah to be distributed to the affected victims.thestar.com.my
Social and Family Development Minister Tan Chuan-Jin, who is also the President of Singapore National Olympic Council, wrote on his Facebook page on Sunday, saying that those affected by Sabah earthquake should have some "meaningful recognition" at the South-east Asia Games held currently in Singapore from June 5-16
Tan wrote on his Facebook page, noting that "even as we support our sportsmen and women, I cannot help but think of those affected by the earthquake in Kinabalu." He added that some of the psychologists from the Ministry of Social and Family Development are in Sabah to support the affected families.
"Everyone is doing what they can. As a parent, I can't even fathom how to make sense of this if it were to happen to me," he wrote. He has also urged all to "pray for them and to rally as a nation to provide them moral support. And to provide them space." An announcement on a tribute will be made, he ended off in his Facebook note.
Help is also underway for mountain guides and porters who have lost their income due to the Mt. Kinabalu earthquake, with the Sabah Social Services Council launching a fund for them, which would come from the government as well as donations from NGOs
“We realise that guides would be among the worst hit by the closure of the mountain for at least three weeks,” she said when launching the fund at the Kinabalu Park headquarters here.
“For them guiding is the main source of income for them and their families and we will do our best to help them,” Jainab added. She said the fund would also be used to help repairs for the houses of villagers damaged in the Friday earthquake.
An initial donation of RM20,000 was contributed by Wanita Barisan Nasional.
Mount Kinabalu Guide Association chairman Richard Soibi said there were about 250 locals working as guides. Another 50 people also work as porters on the mountain, he said. Many of them are from Kundasang, Ranau, Kota Marudu and Kota Belud.
Those wanting to contribute to the fund may do so through the Council by sending their donations to its Alliance Bank account 101960010086060.
President of opposition party Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS), Hadi Awang, who was in Sabah on Sunday, said that PAS has its own machinery in Sabah to provide help to those affected by quake
Meanwhile, villagers of Kampung Bundu Tuhan have banded together to provide food for those involved in the SAR mission
Villagers Cyril Soidi, 39, and Rozelia Joseph, 40, said on Sunday that they decided to cook and provide food for the SAR members in addition to postponing the village-level Harvest Festival celebration out of respect of the earthquake victims.
They were seen giving food to SAR members arriving at the Timpohon Gate. Cyril, a hospital technician, said many of his friends and relatives were part of the SAR operation and he would be getting updates from them via phone constantly.
"Many villagers came forward to help the SAR members who have to brave through tough conditions to find the victims on the mountain. They help by cooking and distributing food to them," he explained.
Rozelia said that once the rescuers retrieved a body, they would immediately attempt to transfer the bodies to a helicopter waiting at Laban Rata.
"They won't stop, not even to eat. One of my relatives, Safry Sumping, went up and down the mountain thrice on Friday. They have food at the top, but they are required to cook for themselves. This is why we provide them home-cooked food at Timpohon."
They also urged the media to give the SAR rescuers, especially the mountain guides, some time to rest and refresh themselves before rushing for an interview, reported The Star Online. "You have to understand that what they are doing is challenging and tiring."
Taking inspiration from an amazing photo of mountain guide Rizuan Kauhinin, photographed while carrying an injured climber on his back, artist Razie Alfiedan has painted a tribute to the heroes of the tragedy. Razie posted the painting with the message "Stay Strong".
Razie said he drew the background of the picture, which was shared 377 times on Facebook, using photographs he had taken of Mount Kinabalu during his own climb in the past.
He plans to paint more paintings on the earthquake and sell them for charity. "The cash would be donated to the Sabah Mountain Guides Association," he said.