It was an emotional and tearful reunion for the surviving Tanjong Katong Primary School (TKPS) pupils and their trainers from Sabah who led them up Mount Kinabalu when the earthquake struck near it on June 5.
Three trainers from Mountain Torq, the company managing the shorter and less steep Via Ferrata route which the pupils were on, arrived at TKPS yesterday afternoon, less than two weeks after the earthquake.
Hillary Augustinus, James Maikol and Hajiris Sulomin spent more than an hour meeting pupils, teachers and parents who lost their children in the disaster.
After the quake, the trio helped bring the pupils down the mountain and to safety.
TKPS teacher Mohamed Faizal, who was part of this year's Mount Kinabalu trip, praised the trainers for their professionalism, which got many pupils out of danger.
Said Mr Faizal, who lost two colleagues - Mohammad Ghazi Mohamed and Terrence Loo - in the disaster: "The trainers did it despite their injuries and the danger of further rockfalls. They did it to the best of their ability."
At the start of the reunion, more than 70 people, including teachers and counsellors from the Education Ministry, observed a minute of silence. Also present were Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean, Education Minister Heng Swee Keat and TKPS principal Caroline Wu.
Mr Augustinus, 34, said: "I wanted to meet the families of those who lost their loved ones, and see how those who survived are coping."
The three trainers were accompanied by the families of Valerian Joannes and Ricky Masirin, two Mountain Torq trainers who also led the TKPS pupils up the mountain but did not survive the earthquake.
Quek I-Gek, marketing director of Mountain Torq, said the morale among her trainers is currently low. The company has about 30 staff.
The trainers are very close to one another, and spend more time living together on the mountain than with their families at home, she said.
She also noted that the company has not been able to access the mountain, which is still closed.
Get MyPaper for more stories.