KUNDASANG - The Sabah earthquake that has so far taken the lives of 11 climbers was a result of the action of Western tourists who had stripped naked near Mount Kinabalu's summit last month, said the state's Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Joseph Pairin Kitingan.
Speaking to reporters on Saturday, he said the tragedy was a "confirmation" of the consequences of the actions of the 10 Europeans who he said had been disrespectful to local customs. He called on the culprits to be brought to a native court to be charged, the Malay Mail Online reported.
"Whether other people believe this or not, it's what we Sabahans believe. When the earthquake happened, it's like a confirmation of our beliefs," he said.
"It is a sacred mountain and you cannot take it lightly," he added.
On May 30, pictures of five naked men on the mountain surfaced on social media, followed by a picture of the 10 tourists - including four women - undressing near the south peak of Mount Kinabalu, The Star reported.
Sabahans railed against the images, as they consider the mountain sacred.
Sabah Parks director Datuk Jamili Nais said the four women and six men had split from their group and gone on to the south peak.
The tourist ignored the warnings from their mountain guide, calling him "stupid" and telling him to "go to hell", when he pleaded with them to stop as they took off all their clothes and posed for pictures.
A show-cause letter has been issued to the guide over the incident.
All guides have also been told to ensure they clearly state that going naked on the mountain was strictly prohibited during their briefings to climbers in the future.
Nine more bodies were found on Saturday, bringing the death toll to 11, with eight people still unaccounted for, Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun said.