Sabah quake: Mountain guides emerge as heroes for key role in rescue efforts

Sabahan mountain guides carrying an injured climber. -- PHOTO: THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK
Sabahan mountain guides carrying an injured climber. -- PHOTO: THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

PETALING JAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Sabahan mountain guides have emerged as heroes in the aftermath of a 5.9-magnitude earthquake for playing key roles in search and rescue efforts.

Photos of the "unsung heroes" transporting injured Mount Kinabalu climbers to safer ground were posted on social media yesterday to much praise and appreciation.

Facebook user Nona Aaliyah hailed the mountain guides as "heroes and the most kind hearted souls I have met".

"And I'm glad to see my mountain guide safe in this picture. Praying for the others to be back safely with their loved ones," she commented on a photo of mountain guides getting an injured boy to safety.

Sabah Parks uploaded four photographs of mountain guides and park rangers as they swung into action, braving damaged trails and making multiple trips to help the stranded and weakened climbers descend to safety.

One of the photographs showed a guide carrying an injured climber on his back. It was uploaded with the message: "Thank you, Mt. Guide Ridwan."

A Singaporean parent identified the boy in the picture as her son.

"Thts (sic) my son from TKP... he is currently receiving treatment for his injuries... please continue to pray for the team... can nvr thk the Sabahan rangers enough for his rescue efforts," wrote the parent on an education-related Facebook page under the name "Sabrena El Huda".

Several Sabahans called for the guides involved in the search and rescue efforts to be given recognition by the state government.

"I hope the Sabah governor awards medals to the all mountain guides involved, they all deserve it. Without them, I can't imagine what would happen - not only will the climbers be stranded, the rescue team will probably also need saving," said Facebook user Lea Johnsiul.

"God bless our heroes during search and rescue! They deserve some medal or recognition from the country. Now this is Malaysia (more like Sabah) Boleh!" posted Facebook user Karen Leni Lang.

Social media users also conveyed their condolences to the family and friends of mountain guide Robbi Sapinggi, 30, of Kampung Kiau, who died of head injuries after the earthquake.

Katherine H Tan posted that Mr Sapinggi had been tremendously brave in doing his duties up on the mountain, and prayed for his soul.

"A very honourable spirit. Well done to all Sabahan mountain guides for their efforts. We pray from afar, may the search and rescue team find the other climbers," she said.

"I'm sad to hear of the deceased mountain guide. Although I do not know Robbi Sapinggi well, may his soul be blessed.

"My condolences to his family," posted Facebook user Loraiti Lolin Sigi.