Malaysia accuses Western tourists who stripped on sacred mountain of causing deadly earthquake

A police report appears to have been filed against five of the Westerners who photographed themselves naked on Mount Kinabalu

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The Independent Online

Malaysian officials have blamed ten Western tourists who stripped on one of the country's most sacred mountains for causing an earthquake that killed more than 16 people.

A police report appears to have been filed against five of the tourists.

Tan Sri Joseph Pairin, the deputy chief minister of Sabah state, has said that he believes the earthquake was caused by the tourists.

Members of the indigenous community in Sabah on the island of Borneo also blame the tourists for causing the earthquake, saying that their antics angered the spirit of the mountain.

The earthquake, a 5.9-magnitude tremor that occurred near Mount Kinabalu, came more than a week after the tourists photographed themselves standing naked on the mountain.

The group of foreigners, which includes two Canadians, two Dutch and a German national, broke away from a larger party of tourists to take the photographs, which later appeared on social media.

The Straits Times reported that a local tribal priest, known as the Bobolian, was demanding the tourists be fined 10 head of buffalo to appease the spirit of the mountain.

"The tourists who angered the guardian of the mountain should pay for their mistakes by giving sogit," the paper quoted Tindarama Aman Sirom Simbuna as saying, referring to what is typically an animal sacrifice to 'cool' restless spirits.

Singaporeans mourned the deaths of at least seven citizens in the Mount Kinabalu earthquake on Monday (Getty)

Indigenous people say Mount Kinabalu is a resting place for the spirits of the departed.

The death toll from the earthquake was revised up to 16 on Saturday. At least two other people are still missing. About 60 rescuers and four helicopters were on the scene over the weekend.

Seven of the dead are Singaporeans and six are Malaysian, according to Masidi Manjun, the state tourism minister. A Filipino, a Chinese and a Japanese national are also among the dead.

Survivors made it down the mountain in the darkness early on Saturday, some with broken limbs, picking their way over loose rocks and boulders dislodged by the quake and blocking part of the main route.

One person was reported to be in a coma.

In Singapore on Monday, flags flew at half-mast to mourn the victims, part of a school outing to the mountain.

The earthquake has also damaged roads and buildings, including schools and a hospital on Sabah's west coast, and broke one of the twin rock formations on the mountain known as the Donkey's Ears.