Sabah quake: Tears and hugs at school's memorial

(Left) Messages penned by the sister of victim Navdeep Singh Jaryal Raj Kumar at Tanjong Katong Primary School, which held a memorial ceremony yesterday. (Above) A soccer event for another victim, Ameer, involving some 60 people, including his footba
Messages penned by the sister of victim Navdeep Singh Jaryal Raj Kumar at Tanjong Katong Primary School, which held a memorial ceremony yesterday.PHOTOS: CALVIN YANG, ALICIA CHAN
(Left) Messages penned by the sister of victim Navdeep Singh Jaryal Raj Kumar at Tanjong Katong Primary School, which held a memorial ceremony yesterday. (Above) A soccer event for another victim, Ameer, involving some 60 people, including his footba
A soccer event for another victim, Ameer, involving some 60 people, including his football academy friends.PHOTOS: CALVIN YANG, ALICIA CHAN

At 7.15am yesterday - exactly a year after an earthquake shook Mount Kinabalu and hurtled rocks on an expedition from Tanjong Katong Primary School (TKPS) - about 50 people, from schoolmates to family members of the victims and survivors, observed a minute of silence at the school in Seraya Road.

Some wept openly while others exchanged hugs at the closed-door memorial ceremony, which lasted under 10 minutes, in the school hall.

After that, the families and schoolmates proceeded to the art room, where some of them painted on pebbles condolence notes on those who had died.

After the remembrance event, TKPS principal Caroline Wu said, while holding back tears, that it had been "a very emotional morning".

"While the surviving students have progressed on to their respective secondary schools, this being the first anniversary, it is understandable that emotions ran high.

"We are very appreciative of the support, care, concern and generosity shown by the public during the past year," she said.

On June 5 last year, a group of 29 Primary 6 pupils and eight teachers from TKPS were on an expedition to the picturesque Mount Kinabalu, a popular tourist destination, when a 5.9-magnitude quake caused landslides and huge boulders - some the size of houses - to tumble down.

 

Ten Singaporeans were among those killed - seven pupils and two teachers from TKPS, as well as a Singapore adventure guide accompanying the group.

Victoria School student Tristan So Kwan Wing, 13, a former TKPS pupil who went on the trip last year, said: "For some of us, there are flashbacks of what happened that day. But we are all moving on."

Emyr Uzayr, 13, who suffered a fractured skull, among other injuries, during the trip said the mood during the memorial was solemn.

"It was emotional, and some people were crying," said the Tanjong Katong Secondary School student.

Amal Ashley Lim, 13, who also went on the expedition, said she recalled the last moments with her friends. "I remembered how everything happened and how I lost my friends," said the netballer at St Hilda's Secondary School.

After the event, a group of parents and children headed to the Singapore University of Technology and Design, where some played in a football tournament in memory of Ameer Ryyan Mohd Adeed Sanjay, a football player and TKPS pupil who died in last year's quake.

The tournament was organised by F-17 Football Academy, which Ameer was part of, to celebrate his life. About 60 people took part, including Ameer's schoolmates, teammates and even neighbours.

The academy's director Nabil Yusoff, 31, said Ameer, who played as a winger, "was smaller in build than other players, but he was a fighter".

For the first time, TKPS pupils in the school's annual leadership programme, the Omega Challenge, did not scale Mount Kinabalu but went for a three-day programme here last month.

In a Facebook post yesterday, Acting Education Minister (Schools) Ng Chee Meng said that while the heartache remains for many, he was glad to see the 22 surviving pupils go on to the next education stage and the six teachers continuing to teach.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 06, 2016, with the headline 'Tears and hugs at school's memorial'. Print Edition | Subscribe