Lucky escape

Lucky escape
SAFE: Ronan Lim, 12, reunited with his parents, Dr Lim Chong Hee and Mrs Janice Lim, yesterday at Changi Airport

For one hour, he was alone - afraid for his life.

Ronan Lim, a 12-year-old pupil from Tanjong Katong Primary School (TKPS), was at Pendant Hut at Mount Kinabalu when the quake struck on Friday morning.

Ronan said he had stayed behind alone in the Hut, which is where they stayed, as he was not feeling well that morning.

The other students had headed to one of the Via Ferrata routes operated by Mountain Torq, the company that took the pupils on their expedition.

Via Ferrata refers to a method of ascending a mountain path using fixed ladders, metal rungs and cables, and bridges.

When the quake struck, Ronan's only thought was to escape. So he immediately fled.

In the chaos, he wandered around in tears, lost and confused.

He did not have his mobile phone with him as his phone had been taken away by his teachers on the first day of their expedition to the mountain.

Ronan, who looked tired when he was reunited with his family at Changi Airport yesterday afternoon, said: "I was scared that no one would come to rescue me."

Fortunately, three Malaysian women noticed the panicked boy.

He said: "They lent me their mobile phone so I could call my mother."

Ronan's mother, Mrs Janice Lim, who was at the airport, said she had heard about the earthquake, but it did not occur to her that her son in Mount Kinabalu would be affected.

The 49-year-old housewife said it was only when she got a phone call from her son at 9.45am on Friday that she "realised he was in danger".

"I was in shock. But I had to keep him calm because I knew if he panicked, he would be in more danger.

"I asked him to describe his surroundings and I decided that the best option for him was to wait for rescue at a public area - the base, which is at Timpohon Gate."

SPRAINED ANKLE

She added that the Malaysian women also helped calm her son down and gave her information about Ronan's injury, which was a sprained ankle.

Mrs Lim said: "It was only after I knew he was calm and safe that I started panicking.

"Even though I knew he was alive, I just didn't know what (would) happen to him especially because he was alone."

About an hour after the phone call, a TKPS teacher found Ronan at Timpohon Gate.

That evening, Mrs Lim and her husband, Dr Lim Chong Hee, 50, a surgeon, went to TKPS to get more information, as well as to get moral support from teachers and other parents. They did not leave the school until 2am.

"I was so tired, but I just could not sleep.

"I knew he was safe, but I just needed to see him with my own eyes before I was sure. And when I saw him, everything was okay again."

djenn@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on June 8, 2015.
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