KUNDASANG - Rescuers have recovered nine more bodies on Mount Kinabalu, pushing the death toll following Friday's earthquake there to 11.
Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun said the mountain would also be closed for at least three weeks to enable a clean-up following serious damage to trails, accommodation and other facilities.
Police have a forensics team on stand by to identify the bodies that would be airlifted out of the mountain, he said on Saturday in a joint media conference with Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Joseph Pairin Kitingan.
Also present was Ranau police chief Deputy Supt Farhan Lee Abdullah, who said they they were awaiting for the weather to clear on the mountain for helicopters to fly out the bodies.
On the closure of the mountain, Masidi said it would enable Sabah Parks to take stock of the damage and determine the necessary repairs that had to be carried out.
"Our overriding concern has always been the safety of the climbers," he said, adding they were planning an interfaith religious ceremony on the mountain.
Pairin, the Huguan Siou or Kadazandusun paramount leader, said the ceremony would also include rituals of the ethnic community as well.
He said the tragedy was also a "confirmation" of the consequences of in the actions of some western tourists who stripped naked near Mount Kinabalu's summit last month.
"What they did was an affront to the traditions and customs of Sabah's native communities. They should be charged in the native court too," he added.