Trek to be held on anniversary of Mount Kinabalu tragedy

Student Chantel planting a tree in memory of her classmate Emilie at Kinabalu Park.
PHOTO: The Star/Asia News Network

KOTA KINABALU: Retracing the steps of daughter Sonia, the Jhala family from Singapore hopes that their climb up Mount Kinabalu today will help bring closure to the tragic death of the Tanjong Katong primary school pupil during last year's earthquake.

Jaidip, the father of Sonia who perished along with six schoolmates in the June 5, 2015 disaster, has come with his wife and two other children to complete what the 12-year-old girl did not.

"We have accepted her death. We hope this journey will bring a closure for us," said Jaidip, who arrived with 19 others comprising families, friends and teachers from Singapore, to mark the first anniversary of the 6.1-magnitude earthquake that killed 18 people.

Sonia was part of a group of 29 students and eight teachers on a field trip to Mount Kinabalu together with an adventure guide during the tragedy.

"We have decided to complete what my youngest daughter could not," said Jaidip.

He will make the three-day climb with his wife Karen as well as their daughter Karisma, 19, and son Dillion, 17.

At a ceremony near the Timpo­hon gate in Kinabalu Park yesterday morning, the Singapore contingent tearfully planted Agathis trees in memory of those who died that day. Tears flowed freely as they planted the trees.

"The planting of trees signifies a new life. May they rest in peace," John Quok, father of one of the children who survived, said as he planted the tree in memory of the adventure guide Muhammad Daanish Amran.

Chantel Phuay, who was one of the 12-year-olds to survive, was in a sombre mood as she planted the tree to remember her schoolmate Emilie Giovanna Ramu.