No longer majestic after earthquake

No longer majestic after earthquake
Dr Felix Tongkul pointing to the 'scarred' Mount Kinabalu.
PHOTO: The Star

KOTA KINABALU - The magnificent splendour of Mount Kinabalu always strikes any visitor on the road to Kundasang in the foothills.

But since the 5.9 magnitude earthquake on June 5, the majestic mountain seems to have lost of its glitter and looks badly bruised.

Its eastern and western faces have been badly "scarred" by a series of landslides and rock falls in the aftermath of the quake, losing their natural beauty that awed the thousands of visitors and locals for decades.

"Macam kena calar sudah (it looks like it has been scratched),'' said Emily Joseph, a native of Bundu Tuhan in the foothills of Mount Kinabalu.

Joseph, who like many people who live around the mountain, said they felt sad to see mountain bared of its greens and granite face.

"I just hope the mountain recovers to its former glory,'' said Joseph, a Kadazandusun vegetable hawker.

Coordinator of the Mount Kinabalu Council of Elders Johnny Ghani said that it was a very sad moment for everyone to see "our sacred mountain so hurt.''

"I just hope things will improve from now on,'' he said.

The first earthquake struck the western face of Mount Kinabalu,killing 18 climbers and guides while large boulders toppled down the summit area destroying at least three rest-houses on the summit trail. Even one of the pinnacles of Donkey's Ears broke.

On June 12, a powerful 5.1 magnitude aftershock shook the mountain further and coupled with heavy rains brought down boulders and uprooted trees in mudslides. Hundreds of villagers in the foothills of the mountain's eastern and western face were evacuated.

Some calm has returned over the last few days with weather conditions improving and many displaced villagers returning to their homes though authorities remain on standby to evacuate them should heavy rain trigger more mudflows and rock slides.

According to Universiti Malaysia Sabah geologist Dr Felix Tongkul, the natural phenomenon would take time to settle perhaps a few months or years as aftershocks continue to rattle the mountain.

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