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The 2015 Mount Kinabalu earthquake helped push for better management, greater safety and the welfare of guides

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Kota Kinabalu: Six years ago, a 6.1-magnitude earthquake struck Mount Kinabalu, causing loss of life and property. However, there is a silver lining to this tragic event, says former Sabah Parks director, Dr. Jamilly Nice.

He said the accident prompted better facility management and safety measures as well as retraining of mountain guides and getting better suits.

Dr. Jameli said this during the virtual closing of a webinar on “Remembering the Mount Kinabalu Earthquake” held in front of a memorial plaque with the names of 18 victims engraved on it in Kinabalu Park on Saturday (June 5).

He said the disaster brought all Sabhans and Malays together regardless of race, religion and political affiliations as many came forward to offer assistance to the victims and their families, as well as moral support.

The permanent secretary of the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Environment said in Sabah that the disaster also saw the rebuilding of new routes and better accommodations.

“Not only that, search and rescue simulation training has been introduced and, soon, a more comprehensive SOP for mountaineering management,” he said.

Earlier during the opening of the webinar, Sabah Gardens Board of Trustees Chairman, Datuk Asqalani Abdul Rahim, said that the semi-annual simulation of search and rescue (SAR) operations is taking place in the mountain during the anniversary of the earthquake.

However, it is not possible to perform a physical simulation this time due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

He said that despite the availability of the latest technology, earthquakes are still difficult to predict when compared to other natural disasters including hurricanes or volcanic eruptions where there is evidence or signs before they strike.

In his speech read by his deputy, Peter Lentar, Asqalani said that it is essential that all concerned be well prepared, especially those who are directly involved in mountain works and rescue operations.

He said that the preparations should not only be in terms of having advanced and adequate rescue equipment but also lifeguards and mountain guides who are physically and mentally fit.

He said they should also be skilled and have good interagency coordination.

The webinar also saw several individuals including former Ranau Police Chief Farhan Abdullah, former Ranau Fire and Rescue Chief Jimmy Lagong, as well as rangers and mountain guides offering their insights on how to better manage future disasters on Mount Kinabalu.

A 6.1-magnitude earthquake at Mount Kinabalu killed 18 climbers, including schoolchildren from Singapore, as well as guides in 2015.

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