Kuala Lumpur, June 6 (IANS): Nine more bodies of climbers were recovered on Mount Kinabalu, the highest mountain in Malaysia, bringing the toll to 11 after a 5.9-magnitude earthquake hit Sabah state on Friday, Tourism Minister Masidi Manjun said on Saturday.
Masidi said the mountain would also be closed for at least three weeks to enable a clean-up following serious damage to trails, accommodation and other facilities, the Malaysian Star reported.
Eight people remain unaccounted for. According to the Malaysian Meteorological Services Department, the quake struck 16 km northwest of Ranau district near Mount Kinabalu, at a depth of 54 km. It was felt across Sabah state
Police have a forensics team on stand-by to identify the bodies that would be airlifted out of the mountain, he said.
The bodies of a 12-year-old Singaporean student and a 30-year-old local mountain guide have already been brought down and taken to a hospital, Xinhua news agency reported.
Earlier in the day, Malaysian rescuers brought the last of 137 hikers down to safety.
The tremor triggered small landslides and stonefalls on the 4,095-metre Mount Kinabalu, the highest peak in Malaysia.
According to the photos posted online by the trapped climbers, parts of the iconic Donkey’s Ear twin peaks of the mountain were badly damaged.