The Department of Foreign Affairs says they are assisting two Canadians barred from leaving Malaysia, amid reports that the pair could be charged after allegedly posing naked atop Mount Kinabalu, the country’s highest peak.
Spokesman Nicolas Doire says they are aware that two Canadians have been prevented from leaving the country, adding that Canadian consular officials in Malaysia are in contact with local authorities.
A magnitude-5.9 earthquake on Friday sent rocks and boulders raining down the trekking routes on 4,095-metre-high Mount Kinabalu in eastern Sabah state on Borneo island.
Search efforts for six missing climbers continued on Sunday, after rescuers recovered 13 dead from a strong earthquake that had trapped scores of trekkers.
Sabah Deputy Chief Minister Joseph Pairin Kitingan blamed the tragedy on a group of 10 foreigners who “showed disrespect to the sacred mountain” by posing naked at the peak last week. He said a special ritual would be conducted later to “appease the mountain spirit.”
Officials have said the foreigners — including two Canadians — broke away from their entourage and stripped naked before taking photos at the mountain peak on May 30.
Local media reported Sunday that a senior official with the Sabah Parks said the Canadians could face charges in a native court for violating local native laws in relation to the alleged incident.
The Malaysian Insider reports that Datuk Seri Tengku Zainal Adlin told reporters at the Sabah Park headquarters in Kundasang on Sunday that the tourists were in police custody in Kota Kinabalu and could be charged as early as Monday.
– with files from The Associated Press
The Canadian Press