Sabah quake: Villagers living nearby provide food for search-and-rescue personnel

KUNDASANG (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Villagers of Kampung Bundu Tuhan have banded together to provide food for those involved in the search-and-rescue (SAR) mission for Sabah earthquake victims.

Villagers Cyril Soidi, 39, and Rozelia Joseph, 40, said on Sunday that they decided to cook and provide food for the SAR members in addition to postponing the village-level Harvest Festival celebration out of respect of the earthquake victims.

They were seen giving food to SAR members arriving at the Timpohon Gate.

Mr Soidi, a hospital technician, said many of his friends and relatives were part of the SAR operation and he would be getting updates from them via phone constantly.

"Our village was also affected by the earthquake but the damage is minimal.

"Many villagers came forward to help the SAR members who have to brave through tough conditions to find the victims on the mountain.

"They help by cooking and distributing food to them," he explained.

Ms Joseph said that once the rescuers had retrieved a body, they would immediately attempt to transfer the bodies to a helicopter waiting at Laban Rata.

"They won't stop, not even to eat. One of my relatives, Safry Sumping, went up and down the mountain thrice on Friday.

"They have food at the top, but they are required to cook for themselves.

"This is why we provide them home-cooked food at Timpohon," she explained.

Mr Soidi and Ms Joseph also urged the media to give the SAR rescuers, especially the mountain guides, some time to rest and refresh themselves before rushing for an interview.

"You have to understand that what they are doing is challenging and tiring.

"Journalists might catch them at the wrong time, and then report what the guides say when they are not in the right mind to give an interview.

"Give them some time to rest, because they've worked hard to rescue the victims," they said.