KOTA KINABALU: Sabah tourism and culture minister Masidi Manjun has described a rockfall that took place on Mount Kinabalu yesterday as having been expected due to the mountain undergoing a stabilisation process following the deadly earthquake that hit the area in 2015.
The incident which occurred on a section of Mount Kinabalu facing the Mesilau nature park and nearby Kundasang town reportedly caused panic among surrounding residents although there was no loss of life or injury reported.
It was caused by heavy rainfall and strong winds brought about by the tail-end of Typhoon Lan (called Paolo in the Philippines) which has battered the Philippines since Oct 15.
“The rockslide is expected as parts of the granite surface were loosened during the 2015 earthquake,” Masidi told FMT.
“Mt Kinabalu is going through a stabilisation process,” he said, adding that tourism activities on the mountain were ongoing as usual.
Eighteen people, mostly climbers from a school in Singapore, were killed by falling boulders and rocks in the magnitude-6 earthquake on June 5, 2015. About 137 others who were also scaling the mountain were stranded but later rescued.
FMT reported yesterday that the earthquake, which caused debris and mud to fall into nearby rivers and much vegetation cover to be destroyed on land, had contributed to unprecedented floods in Kota Belud linked to Typhoon Lan last week, displacing more than 2,000 people .
Meanwhile, Sabah Parks director Jamili Nais said the public should not be worried by the rockfall incident yesterday.
“The rockfall shouldn’t be a cause for concern because it’s a post-quake stabilisation process. We are monitoring the situation,” he said on Twitter today.
Jamili had announced two days ago that the mountain’s summit was closed to climbers due to bad weather.
Visitors were however allowed to climb up to Panar Laban, a pit stop at 3,272-metre altitude, he was quoted as saying.
Bernama yesterday cited a statement from the Sabah Malaysian Civil Defence Force as saying that the rockfall, which it referred to as “landslide”, occurred at 3.45pm near Sungai Masilou 2, Kampung Masilou, in Kundasang.
“The landslide occurred on the hill slope located 1.5 km upstream of the former Mesilau Nature Resort near the Taman Kinabalu Masilou Station.
“The water flow at Sungai Masilou 2 is now normal and the situation is under control,” the statement said.
A team from the civil defence force which had rushed to the location was monitoring the situation, and pacifying residents of Kampung Masilou.