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Malaysia and Singapore mourn Borneo earthquake victims

The 16 victims of a 5.9-magnitude in Borneo have been remembered in Malaysia and Singapore. Malaysia's parliament deputy speaker has said the country was "saddened by the tragedy."

During a day of mourning on Monday, flags were were flown at half-mast in Singapore and the eastern Malaysian state of Sabah. In the town of Ranau at the foot of Mount Kinabalu, mourners wore black clothing and laid bouquets of flowers at a plaque in front of the Kinabalu Parks office.

"We are saddened with the tragedy on Friday, which had claimed lives and caused damages on properties," said Malaysian parliament Deputy Speaker Ismail Mohamed Said.

School children among victims

At least 16 people were killed in

Friday's quake

which dislodged huge boulders, sending them hurtling down the 4,095-meter (13,435-foot) mountain. Among the victims were six Malaysians, a Filipino, Chinese and Japanese national, and seven Singaporeans, including six primary school students and their teacher.

According to the US Geological survey, the quake occurred at approximately 7:15 a.m. local time (23:15 UTC on Thursday) at a depth of 10km (32,800 feet).

The force of the quake, which struck 54 km from the mountain, was so strong that it snapped off one of the Kinabalu's landmark "Donkey's Ear" rock outcroppings.

Missing victims

As search operations continued on Monday, Ranau police chief Farhan Lee Abdullah said two other victims still remained unaccounted for.

Another 137 hikers were successfully escorted from the mountain by rescuers on Saturday.

All climbing and treks on Mount Kinabalu have been suspended until further notice to allow for repairs to damaged trails, accommodation and other facilities.

Sacred mountain

As well as attracting thousands of mountaineers from around the world each year, Mount Kinabalu is also sacred to the local Kadazan Dusun tribal group.

Shortly after Friday's quake, Malaysian social media carried speculation that the earthquake was a sign that deceased Dusun relatives were angry at nude photos being posted by Western tourists last week.

ksb/kms (dpa, AFP)

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