Sabah quake: Emotional reunion between surviving trainers and TKPS pupils

Mountain Torq trainer Hillary Augustinus (right) speaking  with (from left)  Tanjong Katong Primary School pupil Jayden Francis, Andrew Mathieu Giovanna Ramu, the younger brother of deceased Emilie Giovanna Ramu, Tristan Jun, and Education Minister H
Mountain Torq trainer Hillary Augustinus (right) speaking with (from left) Tanjong Katong Primary School pupil Jayden Francis, Andrew Mathieu Giovanna Ramu, the younger brother of deceased Emilie Giovanna Ramu, Tristan Jun, and Education Minister Heng Swee Keat, at the school on Wednesday, June 17, 2015.ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG
Mountain Torq trainers from Sabah (from right) Hillary Augustinus, James Maikol  and Hajiris Sulomin (grey/white cap), observing a minute of silence with Tanjong Katong Primary School students, teachers and their families, before meeting them in pers
Mountain Torq trainers from Sabah (from right) Hillary Augustinus, James Maikol and Hajiris Sulomin (grey/white cap), observing a minute of silence with Tanjong Katong Primary School students, teachers and their families, before meeting them in person at the school on Wednesday on June 17, 2015.ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG
Mountain Torq trainer Hillary Augustinus (right) speaking with Ms Vu Thi Thanh (left) and Andrew Mathieu Giovanna Ramu,  the mother and younger brother of the deceased Emilie Giovanna Ramu, at the school on Wednesday, June 17, 2015.
Mountain Torq trainer Hillary Augustinus (right) speaking with Ms Vu Thi Thanh (left) and Andrew Mathieu Giovanna Ramu, the mother and younger brother of the deceased Emilie Giovanna Ramu, at the school on Wednesday, June 17, 2015.ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG
Mountain Torq trainer Hillary Augustinus (right) speaking with Jaidipsinh (centre) and Karen Jhala, the parents of the deceased Sonia Jhala, at the school on Wednesday, June 17, 2015.
Mountain Torq trainer Hillary Augustinus (right) speaking with Jaidipsinh (centre) and Karen Jhala, the parents of the deceased Sonia Jhala, at the school on Wednesday, June 17, 2015.ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG
Mountain Torq trainer Hajiris Sulomin (right) speaking with Tanjong Katong Primary School pupil Emyr Uzayr (centre) and his father Sadri Farick at the school on Wednesday, June 17, 2015.
Mountain Torq trainer Hajiris Sulomin (right) speaking with Tanjong Katong Primary School pupil Emyr Uzayr (centre) and his father Sadri Farick at the school on Wednesday, June 17, 2015.ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG

SINGAPORE - It was an emotional and tearful reunion for the surviving Tanjong Katong Primary School (TKPS) pupils and their trainers from Sabah, Malaysia who led them up Mount Kinabalu when the earthquake occurred near it on June 5.

Three trainers from Mountain Torq, the company managing the shorter and less steep Via Ferrrata route which the pupils were on, arrived at TKPS on Wednesday afternoon, less than two weeks after the earthquake.

Hillary Augustinus, James Maikol and Hajiris Sulomin spent more than an hour meeting pupils, teachers and parents who lost their children in the disaster. After the quake, the trio had helped bring the pupils down the mountain and to safety.

At the start of the reunion, more than 70 individuals, including teachers and counsellors from the Education Ministry, observed a minute of silence. Also present were Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean, Education Minister Heng Swee Keat and TKPS principal Caroline Wu.

Mr Augustinus, 34, said: "I wanted to meet the families of those who lost their loved ones, and also see how those who survived are coping."

The three trainers were accompanied by the families of Valerian Joannes and Ricky Masirin, two Mountain Torq trainers who also led TKPS pupils up the mountain but did not survive the earthquake.

Ms Quek I-Gek, marketing director of Mountain Torq, said the morale among her trainers is currently low. The company has about 30 staff members.

The trainers are very close to one another, and spend more time living together on the mountain than with their families at home, she said.

She also noted that the company has not been able to access the mountain, which is still closed.

"We need the let the mountain settle down. We can't control mother nature," she said.