Mountain guides meet Singaporean boy whom they rescued after Sabah quake

Mountain guide Mohd Rizuan Kauhinin arriving in Singapore at Changi Airport.
Mountain guide Mohd Rizuan Kauhinin arriving in Singapore at Changi Airport. SHIN MIN

SINGAPORE - Mountain guide Mohd Rizuan Kauhinin woke up extra early at 6am on Tuesday, in anticipation of a reunion with the Singaporean boy he rescued after the earthquake on Mount Kinabalu.

It was his first time catching up with Tanjong Katong Primary School (TKPS) pupil El Wafeeq El Jauzy, 12, after carrying him down the mountain and to safety. A photograph, taken shortly after the earthquake, of Mr Rizuan carrying the injured Wafeeq on his back went viral on social media last week. It is now a symbol of the heroism displayed by the mountain guides.

The meet-up took place at TKPS on Tuesday morning, less than two weeks after a 6.0-magnitude earthquake hit Sabah on June 5.

"I am not a hero," Mr Rizuan told The Straits Times on Tuesday. He added that many mountain guides and aid teams also contributed to rescue efforts.

The 25-year-old took care of Wafeeq even after they reached the base of the mountain. Upon returning to Singapore, Wafeeq received treatment for injuries sustained from falling rocks.

Mr Rizuan arrived in Singapore on Monday night with two other guides Simon Gohinmin and Mazlee Liong. The trio had taken turns to carry Wafeeq to safety following the earthquake.

At TKPS on Tuesday, the three guides exchanged hugs with Wafeeq and his parents, and received from them customised soccer jerseys with Wafeeq's and the guides' names. The trio also viewed condolence notes penned by parents, pupils and members of the public to remember those who lost their lives.

Also present at the reunion was another TKPS pupil Arnaav Chabria, 11, who sustained a fractured right arm during the earthquake.

Mr Rizuan had earlier received invitations to visit Singapore and meet Wafeeq's family. Last week, Mr Rizuan spoke briefly with Wafeeq's father, who thanked him for taking care of his son and suggested a meet up once the boy had recovered.

The reunion was arranged as part of an upcoming Channel NewsAsia documentary to be aired next Tuesday.

Seven pupils and two teachers from the school lost their lives in the disaster, as did a Singapore adventure guide accompanying them.

calyang@sph.com.sg