Malaysia's Sabah Chief Minister Musa Aman has declared an emergency holiday for the state and civil servants in Ranau area after Friday's 5.9-magnitude earthquake.
He also advised the public to remain alert and cautious following the quake. "Even though I am away in Shanghai (China), I am monitoring the situation. I know many are worried because Sabah has hardly experienced something of this nature," he said in a statement.
Sabah Parks also cancelled all climbing activities at Mount Kinabalu on Friday (Jun 5) for safety reasons following the quake which hit the state at about 7.15am. State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Masidi Manjun confirmed this in his twitter account.
"Loose stones and bolders are falling due to the tremor (from the quake)," he said. He added that the climbers' huts at Panar Laban and Gunting Lagadan were badly damaged, but there was no report of human injury.
"Sadly, the iconic Donkey's Ears at Mount Kinabalu may have been badly damaged, awaiting confirmation," he tweeted.
Masidi said rescuers had been dispatched to Mount Kinabalu as there were reports of climbers trapped and injured near the mountain.
One climber, identified as Charlene Dmp, posted pictures of hikers on top of the mountain. "Currently we are waiting for the helicopter to save us," she said. She added that it was not safe to descend the mountain due to falling stones and tremors.
Chief Minister Musa Aman said the State Disaster Relief Committee had been activated to monitor and assist those in need, including those stranded on the mountain.
"I am also asking the people to stop spreading hoaxes that there will be more earthquakes to come. We have not received anything official on this. We just have to be cautious," he said. Musa expressed disappointment over the spread of such news, regarding it as "irresponsible" as it could cause panic among the people.
Thirty mountain guides were on standby to carry out rescue mission for climbers who might be stranded on Mount Kinabalu.
One of the mountain guides, Mohd Asli Supilin, said the guides were awaiting for the greenlight from the Kinabalu National Park management to ascend the 4,095m high mountain.
" We will carry out the rescue mission if there are climbers or the Park's staff stranded there," he told Bernama. He added that the mountain guides not only guide climbers up the mountain, but were also trained to handle emergencies.
Meanwhile, a source from the Kinabalu National Park said there were 138 climbers believed to be stranded on the mountain following the quake.
An earthquake measuring 5.9 on the Richter scale hit Ranau in Sabah at 7.15am on Friday. The National Earthquake and Tsunami Centre said the tremors were felt in most places in Sabah, including Ranau, Tambun, Tuaran, Pedalaman, Kota Kinabalu and Kota Belud.
The Meteorological Department has advised the people of Ranau and its vicinity in Sabah to be on the alert for a possible aftershocks over the next 24 hours following the quake.
A spokesman for the department said, when asked for his comment, said it was normal for aftershocks to occur between an hour and 24 hours following an earthquake. However, he said it was difficult to predict the location and time of the aftershocks.
In Ranau, several building structures, including business premises, were slightly damaged due to the earthquake.
Yunus Muhamad, a resident in Ranau, said the tremor from the quake caused a glass door of a bank to break and the walls of another bank and a supermarket to crack. However, he said the incident did not affect the daily routine of residents in Ranau.
Banks and business premises are open and operating as usual today, he added. Yunus, who is a bank employee, said he was in his orchard near his house when he saw the bridge across Sungai Liwagi sway.
The tremor was also felt in the west coast of Sabah, like Papar, Keningau, Tambunan, Tenom, Beaufort and Sipitang.
Meanwhle, Sabah Fire and Rescue Department public relations officer Mohd Affendy K Ramin said several business premises and government offices in Ranau were damaged and firemen had been instructed to monitor the situation to ensure no one was trapped in the buildings.
"The State Fire Director has instructed fire stations in all affected districts to monitor the situation," he added.
However, in Tawau, there were no reports of tremors and daily activities went on as usual. Tawau Fire and Rescue station chief Mohd Razali Awang Ahmad, when contacted, said the station did not receive any emergency call following the earthquake.
Meanwhile, Kunak district police chief Supt Ad Rashid Abdullah also said the police had not received reports of tremors due to the earthquake.