At least five climbers are feared dead after a 6.0-magnitude earthquake hit Malaysia's state of Sabah early Friday, triggering landslides on Mount Kinabalu, according to local media reports. Over 200 people are reportedly stranded on the mountain, located in the eastern state of Sabah on the island of Borneo.
Authorities reportedly suspected that the climbers may have been hit by falling rocks after tremors were felt on the mountain for nearly a minute. The Sabah Fire and Rescue Department confirmed that the people stranded included 195 foreign and local climbers, and 43 guides, the Malaysian Insider reported. Mount Kinabalu, which is the tallest mountain in southeast Asia, is one of the region's most popular tourist attractions.
"Loose stones and borders are falling due to the tremor,” Masidi Manjun, minister for state tourism, wrote on his Twitter account, adding that climbers' huts at Panar Laban and Gunting Lagadan were badly damaged.
He reportedly said that poor weather conditions were making it difficult for helicopters to land on the mountain, and rescue teams were trying to find an alternative way to reach the climbers. At least four people were injured and two instructors are missing, Masidi said, according to CNN.
— Masidi Manjun (@MasidiM) June 5, 2015
There has so far been no official confirmation of any casualties from the earthquake, which struck at a depth of nearly 6 miles, with its epicenter located about 7 miles from the town of Ranau, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
The meteorological department reportedly advised the residents of Ranau and nearby towns in Sabah to be prepared for possible aftershocks over the next 24 hours. Fire department officials also reportedly said that several businesses in Ranau were damaged because of the earthquake.
"The State Fire Director has instructed fire stations in all affected districts to monitor the situation," a public relations officer for the fire department said, according to Channel News Asia.