Sabah quake: Death toll rises to 18; Malaysia to end search and rescue ops

KUALA LUMPUR (AFP) - The death toll following a strong earthquake that jolted Malaysia's Mount Kinabalu last week has risen to 18 after the last two remaining victims who were unaccounted for were confirmed dead on Wednesday.

As a result, Malaysian authorities said they would end their search and rescue operations.

"These are the final two people who were missing. We will stand down the search and rescue by the end of today," said Mohammad Farhan Lee Abdullah, police chief of the town of Ranau near the mountain.

The remains of Navdeep Singh Jaryal s/o Raj Kumar, a Singaporean student, and Mohammad Ghazi bin Mohamed, a Singaporean teacher, will be sent back to Singapore after further forensic tests in Malaysia, according to a statement from Singapore's education ministry on Wednesday.

Of the 18 people who died in the quake, seven students and three adults were from Singapore. The city state declared a day of national remembrance on Monday

The students were taking a route to the summit known as the Via ferrata - Italian for "iron road" - which was one of the worst-hit areas, traversing a steeply sloping granite rock face.

They were among 29 students and eight teachers from Singapore's Tanjong Katong Primary School who were part of an excursion to the popular climbing destination.

A minute's silence was observed on Monday at all South-east Asian Games venues at the start of the competition, which Singapore is hosting.

The 6.0-magnitude quake struck early Friday near the picturesque mountain, triggering thunderous landslides that obliterated sections of trail on the peak in the Malaysian state of Sabah on Borneo island.