S'pore remembers Sabah quake victims

Today has been declared a Day of National Remembrance for the victims of the Sabah earthquake.

State flags on all government buildings will be flown at half-mast. One minute of silence will be observed at the beginning of the day at all SEA Games venues.

"We hope that this collective expression of sympathy and support from all Singaporeans will give solace and comfort to the families and loved ones of the victims," said a statment from the Prime Minister's Office yesterday.

Six pupils and one teacher from Tanjong Katong Primary School (TKPS) are confirmed to have died in the 6.0-magnitude earthquake on Friday. The Singaporean adventure guide who was with them on a field trip to Mount Kinabalu also died.

Another pupil and a teacher are still unaccounted for.

The pupils who died are Peony Wee Ying Ping, Ameer Ryyan Mohd Adeed Sanjay, Emilie Giovanna Ramu, Matahom Karyl Mitzi Higuit, Rachel Ho Yann Shiuan and Sonia Jhala.

Teacher Loo Jian Liang Terrence Sebastian and guide Muhammad Daanish Amran also died. Operations are continuing to locate pupil Navdeep Singh Jaryal Raj Kumar and teacher Mohammad Ghazi Mohamed.

The statement said that Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong "is deeply saddened by the deaths of (the) eight Singaporeans".

"On behalf of all Singaporeans, the Prime Minister expresses his deepest condolences and sympathies to their families and loved ones. As we grieve over the loss of these young lives, we also take heart that they were striving to stretch their limits and take on new challenges," the statement said.

The Prime Minister also thanked all the people who worked tirelessly in the search, rescue and recovery efforts - the Malaysian authorities, the search and rescue teams, the hospital staff, and all the officers and volunteers who are helping in Sabah and Singapore, it said.

President Tony Tan Keng Yam and his wife also expressed their deep sadness over the deaths on Facebook. "Our condolences go to their families and loved ones during this difficult period for them," wrote Dr Tan. "We are hoping and praying that the student and teacher who are still missing will be found soon."

Of the Day of National Remembrance today, he said: "Together as a nation, we mourn the tragic loss of these sons and daughters of Singapore."

The victims were part of a group of 29 pupils and eight teachers who were on Asia's highest peak when the earthquake struck at 7.15am on Friday. The others survived.

It hit Ranau, with the tremors felt in several areas including Tambunan, Pedalaman, Tuaran, Kota Kinabalu and Kota Belud. The Malaysian authorities said the quake had claimed 16 lives so far, including six Malaysians.

The quake struck near the picturesque Kota Kinabalu mountain, a popular tourist destination, sending landslides and huge granite boulders tumbling down from its wide, 4,095m-high crown.

Government officials, including those from the Ministry of Education, are in Kota Kinabalu, and are providing assistance and support to the families.

Arrangements are being made for the family members and the bodies to be flown back to Singapore as soon as possible.

Last evening, the body of 12-year-old Peony arrived at Jalan Tiga in Mountbatten. Her mother, Luo Jin, 43, was wailing as the coffin was rolled out from a white van to a multipurpose pavilion, where the five-day wake is being held.

Peony's older brother, 14-year-old Chester, put his arms around his mother, comforting her. More than 20 friends and relatives were also present as a Buddhist monk led a 15-minute prayer.

Peony's father, machine operator Alson Wee, 51, said she was a lovely, active girl who played netball and enjoyed wonton noodles.

"She was very loving, very helpful," said Mr Wee. "I will miss hearing her cheerful voice around the house."

Alumni and members of the public also visited TKPS to pen notes of hope and condolences at a site set up yesterday. It will remain open until tomorrow.

"Our prayers go out to those who are still missing. Come home safe," read one note from a concerned parent and her child.


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State flags on all government buildings will be flown at half-mast. -My Paper
Monday, June 8, 2015 - 08:49
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