In wake of quake tragedy, some plan to return to Mt Kinabalu

In wake of quake tragedy, some plan to return to Mt Kinabalu
Mr Jaidipsinh Jhala and his wife Karen (right) lost their daughter Sonia, 12, in the quake. The Sunday Times recalls the deadly event in an online special.

On June 5, an earthquake shook Mount Kinabalu and sent rocks raining down on a group of climbers from Tanjong Katong Primary School who were on a school expedition. Ten families from Singapore lost loved ones, many just 12-year-olds, in the deadly disaster.

A month on, while the pain is still a bitter reality, some families are trying their best to heal and move on. Some of them are planning what was unthinkable just weeks ago: returning to Mount Kinabalu.

Mr Jaidipsinh Jhala, 48, who lost his 12-year-old daughter Sonia during the quake, plans to climb the mountain on June 5 next year. "It's to finish what she could not finish, to honour her," said Mr Jhala.

His wife, Karen, 48, added: "Some of the mothers said they might just go to the base; the fathers can climb. We can probably leave flowers, maybe at the site, perhaps even say prayers."

Sonia was among seven pupils from Tanjong Katong Primary School who died during the quake.

Two teachers and a Singapore adventure guide accompanying the group also lost their lives. The remaining 22 pupils, six teachers and two Singapore guides survived.

Some of the survivors are also planning to go back to Mount Kinabalu next year.

Emyr Uzayr, 12, who suffered a fractured skull during the trip, hopes to make it to the summit.

His father Sadri Farick, 37, said: "It's a beautiful place. My kid and some of his friends want to do it for their friends who passed away."

Despite the tragic incident, some parents from Tanjong Katong Primary School remained supportive of such trips. But others have voiced concerns about sending young children on overseas school trips which involve higher risks, such as outdoor expeditions.

Some operators in the adventure travel industry also support the idea of setting an age requirement for Mount Kinabalu climbers.

"In emergencies, older children might be more confident in making judgments and reacting faster," said IPC Tours director Raj Kumar.

One month after the deadly quake, The Sunday Times recounts the incident and finds out how the affected families are coping in an online special, The Day The Mountain Shook: One Month After The Mount Kinabalu Quake.

•Additional reporting by Jalelah Abu Baker


This article was first published on July 05, 2015.
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