The death toll from an earthquake that trapped scores of climbers on Malaysia's highest peak rose to 16 today as rescuers searched for two Singaporean climbers still missing. A magnitude-5.9 earthquake on Friday sent rocks and boulders raining down the trekking routes on 13,435-foot Mount Kinabalu in eastern Sabah state on the island of Borneo. Nine of the bodies found Saturday were flown out by helicopter, while two were carried down, police said. Five more bodies have now been recovered. Most of the other climbers made it down the mountain in the darkness early Saturday, some with broken limbs.
Sabah Deputy Chief Minister Joseph Pairin Kitingan blames the tragedy on a group of 10 foreigners who "showed disrespect to the sacred mountain" by posing naked at the peak last week. He says a special ritual will be conducted later to "appease the mountain spirit." The foreigners, including two Canadians, two Dutch citizens, and a German national, broke away from their group and stripped naked before taking photos at the mountain peak on May 30, officials say. Five of the tourists are believed to still be in Malaysia and will be barred from leaving on the offense of gross indecency, according to police. (Read more earthquake stories.)