Sabah quake: Loved ones bid goodbye to Mount Kinabalu victims, as Singapore marks day of national remembrance

SINGAPORE - Tears were shed and hearts broken as parents mourned the loss of their young children whose bodies were flown home from Mount Kinabalu on Sunday night (June 7).

The nation shared their grief on the day of national remembrance. On Monday (June 8), flags were flown at half-mast at government buildings and a minute of silence was observed at the start of the day at SEA Games venues.

One child, 12-year-old Ameer Ryyan Mohd Adeed Sanjay, was laid to rest on Monday. He was one of six pupils from Tanjong Katong Primary School (TKPS) who were killed when a 6.0-magnitude earthquake struck Sabah on Friday (June 5), triggering a landslide that hurled rocks and boulders at them. 

His body was brought to the Ba'alwie Mosque off Lewis Road in the morning where prayers were held. After the prayers, he was laid to rest at the Muslim Cemetery.

Many of his young friends who came to say their last goodbyes were wearing white football jerseys with “Ameer Ryan 7” printed on the back. The boy was a student at the F-17 Academy, a football academy started by footballer and coach Fandi Ahmad. His coach, former national footballer Steven Tan, said on Facebook: “He was a good kid and I will miss him dearly.”

His friend Andre Aide Iskandar, 14, said: “I have lost a good friend who was like a little brother to me.”

Adventure guide Muhammad Daanish Amran, 22, who accompanied the pupils on their expedition, was also laid to rest on Monday.

Friends, family and colleagues took turns to file solemnly into the family's Toa Payoh flat on the fourth floor, where his body lay and the grieving family received them. Only quiet condolences and muffled sniffles broke the silence.

Government leaders, including Education Minister Heng Swee Keat and Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs Yaacob Ibrahim, were among those who came to bid farewell to Ameer and Mr Daanish.

Many others also turned up at the wake of the other victims, including teacher Terrence Sebastian Loo Jian Liang, 29, to say their last goodbyes.

It was also a tearful farewell when Rachel Ho, 12, left for her Mount Kinabalu trip last week, said her father James Ho, 45.

The usually cheerful girl had cried at the airport, moments before departing Singapore. Mr Ho, a banker, said Rachel was upset as she had forgotten to bring the shirt the team had planned to wear when they reached the summit.

“Perhaps that was God’s way of telling us that Rachel did not want to leave us,” he said.

One of the family's last outings was to watch the Singapore-Thailand netball match for the SEA Games because Rachel was a big netball fan.

On Monday, the national netball team attended the wake and brought what Rachel would have been delighted to receive - an autographed plastic medal.

Many who might not know the victims personally also turned up at Tanjong Katong Primary School, leaving flowers and penning condolence notes.

Among them was IT manager David Soh, 38, who visited the school before heading to work.

"I couldn't sleep last night, so I thought of coming down today," he said. "Those who are suffering need not be alone in their struggles. Their fellow Singaporeans are behind them."

President Tony Tan Keng Yam, Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam and Education Minister Heng Swee Keat also visited the school.

On Monday, an 11-year old pupil, who was receiving medical treatment at Gleneagles Kota Kinabalu Hospital, was flown back to Singapore. The hospital in Sabah said that the boy has serious head, chest and muscle injuries.

A statement from the Ministry of Education said he will receive further medical treatment here.

One more pupil, Navdeep Singh Jaryal S/O Raj Kumar, and a teacher, Mohammad Ghazi Bin Mohamed, are still missing.

The search was halted on Monday due to bad weather conditions.

 

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