Villagers flee from Mount Kinabalu mudflow

A road leading to the Mesilau Nature Centre damaged by the mudflow, which began at about 3pm on Monday, blocking roads and seriously damaging bridges.
A road leading to the Mesilau Nature Centre damaged by the mudflow, which began at about 3pm on Monday, blocking roads and seriously damaging bridges.PHOTO: THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

KOTA KINABALU - Tonnes of mud, boulders, rocks and debris flowed down Mount Kinabalu after three days of heavy rain, forcing the evacuation of over a hundred people from their homes at the foothills.

The mudflow - which came 10 days after a 6.0-magnitude quake struck Sabah - hit Mesilau on the eastern face and Kiau on the western side, washing out and seriously damaging bridges, The Star reported.

The mudflow began at about 3pm on Monday, blocking roads into Kiau and Mesilau, which is one of Sabah's key highland vegetable-growing areas.

Farmer Jassumiah Jati said she was among dozens of villagers from Kampung Mesilau who fled their homes after seeing huge boulders being carried down by fast-flowing mud in the river near them.

"It was scary to hear those boulders crashing down with the mud," she said, adding that they barely made it out of the Mesilau area before the bridges were damaged.

Mount Kinabalu has remained restless since it was hit by the quake on June 5, which killed 18 people on the peak.

Villagers in Kampung Kiau, Kampung Lobong-Lobong and Kampung Kaung at the foothills of the mountain have witnessed boulders and mud rolling downhill in the past 10 days.

Fish have also been dying en masse due to the high mineral content in the rivers after the temblor, they said.

Rocks could also be heard falling from the mountain during the nearly 60 aftershocks.

The biggest of these measured 5.1 on the Richter scale and happened last Saturday.

The state Fire and Rescue Services Department spokesman Affendy Ramin yesterday said flooding in the Sungai Kadamaian area along Kampung Kiau has receded and the cleanup was expected to begin immediately.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 17, 2015, with the headline 'Villagers flee from Mount Kinabalu mudflow'. Print Edition | Subscribe