Malaysia earthquake: 11 dead and eight missing after 5.9 magnitude quake hits Mount Kinabalu

The quake struck Malaysia's highest peak on Friday

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The Independent Online

11 people have died and eight are still missing after an earthquake struck near Malaysia's highest mountain, a state official has said.

The 5.9-magnitude tremor occurred in the Sabah state on the island of Borneo near Mount Kinabalu at around 7.15am local time on Friday.

It sent boulders crashing down on trekking routes, trapping more than 150 climbers on the 4,095m moutain.

Poor weather conditions hampered escape operations on Friday, when two bodies were initially discovered, but 137 climbers who had been trapped near the mountain's peak navigated their way to safety, leaving 17 people unaccounted for.

This morning Masidi Manjun, Malaysia's Minster of Tourism, tweeted that another nine bodies had been discovered by rescue teams, taking the total number of dead to 11, with eight still missing.

The nationalities of most of the dead are unknown. Farhan Lee Abdullah, a district police official, said that the two bodies discovered on Friday were a 12-year-old Singaporean student and a 30-year-old local guide.

Before the latest bodies were retrieved, police had confirmed that among the 17 people still missing were eight Singaporeans, and one person each from China, the Philippines and Japan.

Mr Manjun also said that the earthquake had caused significant damage to parts of the 4,095m mountain's twin 'Donkey's Ear' peaks.

The tremor also caused damage to roads and buildings in the region, including schools and a hospital.

Four helicopters and a rescue team of 60 people were reportedly combing the mountain for survivors on Saturday.

Additional reporting by agencies