Singapore to Fly Flags at Half Mast to Mourn Sabah Quake Victims

Singapore declared Monday a day of national remembrance where state flags will be flown at half-mast to mourn eight victims, including six children, who died in an earthquake in Malaysia.

A minute of silence will also be observed at the SEA Games, a Southeast Asia regional sports competition being held in the city-state, the Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement on Sunday.

The children, a teacher from their Singapore primary school and an adventure guide were on an overseas learning trip to Malaysia’s Mount Kinabalu. Their bodies were to be flown back to the island republic Sunday night while the search for another teacher and student continues, Singapore’s education ministry said. Twenty-nine students and eight teachers from Tanjong Katong Primary School were on the trip.

An 80-member search and rescue team is focusing its efforts on a section of Mount Kinabalu that has been dubbed a “river of stones” because of its impassibility after the quake struck on Friday, Sabah’s Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment Masidi Manjun said on Twitter. The death toll on the mountain has risen to 16, with two climbers missing, Masidi said on Twitter.

The father of Arnaav, an 11-year-old boy who took part in the school’s team-building trip, said his son broke an arm and a shoulder. The children and their teachers trekked more than three hours to get to rescue officers after bad weather hampered plans for a helicopter to fetch the injured from a helipad at 10,000 feet, said the man, who would give only his family name, Chabria.

Mixed Emotions

“I was happy to see my son, but worried about the rest,” Chabria said. “Hats off to every teacher and staff at the school.”

Search-and-rescue operations for climbers on Southeast Asia’s highest peak are under way after an earthquake with a magnitude of 6.0 hit the Malaysian state of Sabah on the northwest coast of Borneo island. The temblor occurred around 7:15 a.m. local time, when climbers tend to descend after reaching the summit in the early hours of the morning, said the Malaysian Meteorological Department. In recent years, Sabah has experienced minor earthquakes, it said.