Sabah quake: Father of guide who died while trying to shield students glad that he died a hero

KOTA KINABALU (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - As the teary-eyed families who came to identify the bodies of their loved ones who died in the earthquake at Mount Kinabalu come to terms with the fact that they are gone forever, one father has said he is proud of his mountain guide son, who was said to be helping a group of students from Singapore when he died.

"My son is dead, I accept it," said Mr Joannes Lubak as tears welled in his eyes outside Queen Elizabeth hospital mortuary here.

Wiping his tears with a towel, Mr Lubak said he was proud of his mountain guide son Valerian, 28.

Mr Lubak, 55, of Kampung Bundu Tuhan at the foothills of Mount Kinabalu, was choked with emotion as he related what he had heard from others about his son's heroism.

"I am happy that he died a hero," said the father, adding that Valerian had done his best trying to rescue the climbers from falling rocks and boulders when the mountain shook.

Mr Lubak said Valerian's colleagues told him that his son was on the rope with Singapore students.

"I was told that Valarian grabbed the harness of the students and tried to shield them from the falling rocks but the rope snapped," he said.

All of them were believed to have fallen together with the piles of rocks and boulders.

Valerian is the fourth of 10 siblings, and was planning to get married this November.

His fiancee Jessica Veronica Sikta, 25, wrote in her Facebook posting that she was still trying to come to terms with his death.

"Waking up and realizing ure gone make me really sick n hurt sayang.

"WHY U? WHY US baby?" she posted.

"I am still trying to come to terms with the death of my dearest husband-to-be who is gone forever," she said in her posting.

Mr Lubak was one of those who talked with the media while other family members stayed inside the waiting room as post-mortems were being conducted on the bodies recovered from the mountain.

Arriving at the hospital at about 9am, some of the Singapore families shielded their faces with their hands and handkerchief while being ushered into a separate waiting room.

Thirteen bodies have been brought to the hospital. Several of the families were also seen making funeral arrangements with undertakers.