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Sayang Sabah - The voice of Sabahans

Another quake- a grim reminder

June 5, stranded climbers
June 5, stranded climbers

A magnitude of 4.7 earthquake hit Ranau, Sabah at 12.10 am today with an epicentre at  16 kilometres west of Ranau town.

It was certainly a recurring nightmare for residents around the area especially those who experienced the quake of June 5 when a rock fall at Mount Kinabalu took 18 lives comprising Mountain Guides and climbers including children.

For Mountain Guide Dolius Tinggi, who lives in Kg Kiau Toburi, last night’s tremours  felt as strong as the initial one, although the many tremours that have hit the area made it almost normal for him.

Dolius who have been a Mountain Guide for 13 years said at midnight he heard the now all-too familiar rumble from the mountain.

“It was a prolonged crash and then the earth quake. My family and I rushed out of the house and we stood at our lawn to wait out the tremours,” he said adding that it lasted about 15 seconds.

He believed that another landslide or rock fall occurred on the mountain as it sounded very strong.

Dolius was one of the guides who were at the Mountain on June 5.

Dolius Tinggi (second right) at the Mountain guides and porters at the centre in Kinabalu Parks
Dolius Tinggi (second right) with Mountain guides and porters at the centre in Kinabalu Parks

He recalled that he was at the top when the earthquake occurred at 7.15am in the morning. At that time most of the climbers were about to descent. However when the quake occurred the route they had initially walked up on was obliterated.

All they could hope for at that time was rescue from the air, by helicopters. Unfortunately this transportation was not easily available and they could not access the area where the stranded climbers were due to the situation at that time.

Dolius said at that time he was not only terrified for his life but he was also concerned about his tourists. He was also concerned because what little food they had would soon run out and so would the water.

So after waiting from morning to 4pm, he and his fellow Mountain Guides had a meeting and they collectively decided to walk down together as the cold would soon set in and everyone was not dressed to combat the cold. Staying the night would have been disastrous.

So they gathered their tourists together, stationed themselves at the back, in the middle and at the front of the group and started to ascend from the Mountain, which was expected to suffer another aftershocks within the same day.

The guides then went down walking alternate routes and seeking ropes that could be utilised.  When the guests ran out of water they sought out water springs that were still pristine then.

He recalled that he told his tourists not to react to anything they might see along the way and they said they wouldn’t but of course when they passed dead bodies, some of the girls gasped in horror.

They managed to reach Laban Rata at 3am the next day.  The rest as they say is history. But Dolius could never forget his ordeal or the fact that he raced with death at that time. There could easily have been more rock fall at that time to crash from the mountain and kill them.

Last night’s tremours therefore was reminder of what had occurred to Dolius and his fellow guides, a little more than a month ago.-Sayangsabah






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