Sabah quake: Recovery made difficult by boulders

Sabah quake: Recovery made difficult by boulders
Injured climbers being brought down, 5 June 2015.

KUNDASANG - Rescuers in helicopters could see a gruesome scene of bodies rolled over by rocks and boulders along slopes of Mount Kinabalu but were unable to get close to retrieve them.

They said they were having difficulties flying low on the mountain top and might not be able to get close to where the victims' bo­­dies were by nightfall.

The rescuers also said that some of the body parts were spread out as the victims "looked like they were crushed by tonnes of rocks and boulders".

Some of the rescuers also expressed fear that the victims whose bodies that have yet to be brought down, might never be recovered.

They believed at least 19 people were killed by the boulders that broke off after the earthquake on Friday.

"Some of the bodies are buried deep under the rubble. We can see parts of the crushed victims," said a search and rescue team member.

The rescuers added that the rocks and boulders on top of victims virtually made it impossible for them to remove the bodies from the scene.

Despite being shaken by aftershocks the entire day, rescuers ploughed through boulders and rocks on their rescue mission throughout the day.

Three bodies were flown out by RMAF chopper at 4.30pm to Queen Elizabeth Hospital mortuary in Kota Kinabalu and about an hour later six more bodies were also flown out after firemen retrieved them.

Search and rescue teams have also spotted other bodies among boulders near a gully along the Via Ferreta trail as efforts continue to bring them out of the mountain.

Queen Elizabeth Hospital director Dr Razak Tambi said post-mortems on the 11 bodies would be carried out today.

So far, 69 people are injured with 37 admitted to six hospitals for various fractures and injuries while 32 others were given outpatient treatment.

Eleven of the injured Singapore students and their teacher were admitted overnight at Gleneagles Hospital in Kota Kinabalu and flown back to the republic on special Singapore Air Force plane at about 11am.

One of the Singapore students Pravesh Dhimant Patel, 12, who was rescued in the wee hours yesterday remained at the Gleneagles as his injuries were described as serious.

His parents flew in to be by his bedside in the intensive care unit.

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