A magnitude-5.9 earthquake that struck near Southeast Asia’s highest peak early Friday injured 11 climbers and left about 130 people stranded, officials said.
The quake struck northwest of Ranau district in Sabah state on Borneo early Friday at a depth of 54 kilometers (34 miles), Malaysia’s meteorological department said.
Sabah Parks director Jamili Nais said two climbers who were injured on the 4,095-meter peak have been brought down. Nine more people are believed to be injured among the 137 stranded on the mountain, he said.
Their climbing route is apparently blocked or made dangerous by rocks and boulders loosened by the quake and small aftershocks, he said. Some of the stranded climbers are foreign, but it wasn’t clear how many.
Jamili said helicopters can’t land due to bad weather and the high altitude, but park rangers and mountain guides are trying to help down the climbers.
Ranau has experienced several weak quakes in recent years. The meteorological department said Sabah has several active fault lines that result in occasional earthquakes.
State Tourism Minister Masidi Manjun said people from nearby villages joined the rescue team to try and reach the climbers.
He tweeted that the strong tremor had damaged climbers’ huts and facilities on the mountain, and broke one of the twin rock formations famously known as the “Donkey’s Ears” on the mountain.
In a later tweet, he confirmed all the stranded climbers were progressing cautiously toward a midway point on the climbing route called Laban Rata.
Jamili said the rescuers hoped to help all the stranded climbers at least reach that area before nightfall. Laban Rata is a usual resting point for climbers trying to scale the summit and has food available.