Mt Kinabalu to stay closed for 3 more weeks

KOTA KINABALU - Mount Kinabalu will remain closed for at least three more weeks as Sabah Parks begins repair work on sections of the mountain trail damaged during the June 5 earthquake.

An initial three-week closure period ended yesterday.

The mountain was shut to all climbing activity following the earthquake that triggered rock and boulder avalanches killing 18 people, including 10 Singaporeans and four mountain guides.

Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Masidi Manjun has tweeted that the state has cancelled the annual 29th edition of the Mount Kinabalu Climbathon scheduled for Oct 17 and 18.

Sabah Parks chairman Tengku Zainal Adlin Tengku Mahamood said mountain guides have been engaged to help in the repair works.

Sabah Parks had hoped to get the mountain operations up and running in three weeks, after the quake, but continuing aftershocks have derailed many plans to repair trails and accommodation facilities in the area.

Tengku Adlin said repairs have started on the trails. He said the main concern now was the loose rocks and the safety of the Sabah Parks workers and mountain guides carrying out the repair work.

"We are hoping the tremors would eventually taper off. Otherwise the repair work would be interrupted," he added.

The damaged trails include those between the 1.5km and 1.8km stretch near the base of the mountain, between the 6.1km and 7km stretch between Laban Rata and the Summit Plateau that had been blocked by rocks and boulders, and at the 6th kilometre of the Mesilau-Layang Layang trail.

Sabah Parks personnel as well as mountain guides are planning a new route between Laban Rata and the Summit Plateau.

Meanwhile, uncertainty hangs over the Sabah highlands of Kundasang near Mount Kinabalu, as South-east Asia's tallest mountain continues to rumble three weeks after the June 5 killer quake.

Efforts to bring back normalcy to the mountain and its foothills are being stymied by persistent tremors, rain and landslips that have bogged down relief and repair work.

At least five buildings in Ranau were badly damaged in the 5.9-magnitude earthquake and have to be rebuilt from scratch.

These included the district mosque, police quarters, a block at the hospital and a building at a primary school. Replacing them will cost at least RM80 million (S$29 million).

THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 27, 2015, with the headline 'Mt Kinabalu to stay closed for 3 more weeks'. Print Edition | Subscribe