Malaysia Sabah Quake: Police Arrest Tourists For Posing Naked At Mount Kinabalu, Says Desecration Triggered Jolt

Malaysia Sabah Quake: Police Arrest Tourists For Posing Naked At Mount Kinabalu, Says Desecration Triggered Jolt
Mt. Everest, Lhotse and Ama Dablam Mahatma4711 / Flickr CC BY 2.0

Four tourists – a Briton, a Dutch and two Canadians – could serve jail time in Malaysia’s Sabah state after posing nude at the summit of Mount Kinabalu. Tribal folks said their obscene behavior was what triggered the June 5 magnitude 6.0 earthquake that killed 18 people in the area.


To appease the gods, Priest Tindarama Aman Sirom Simbuna said they must pay a fine of ten buffalo or face jail time of up to three months.

The alleged perpetrators were identified as Briton Eleanor Hawkins, Canadian siblings Lindsey and Danielle Petersen, and Dutch man Dylan Snel.

Another Canadian, Emil Kaminski, was arrested. The New Straits Times described him as a “notorious Canadian nudist.” He was the one alleged to have first posted the photos of the naked stripping session. He is believed to be the group’s tour guide.

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A Southampton University graduate from Derby, it was the first time Hawkins got arrested for a misdemeanor, her father Timothy said. His daughter was part of a group of 10 people accused of stripping naked before taking photos at Mount Kinabalu on May 30.

Indigenous people regard Mount Kinabalu sacred because it is where they believe the spirits of the departed rest. Sabah Deputy Chief Minister Joseph Pairin Kitingan said the foreign tourists disrespected the sacred mountain. He added they now have to hold a special ritual to “appease the mountain spirit.”

Hawkins’ father said he has no rejections to the idea that his daughter should pay for the consequences of her actions when she violated the local culture, traditions and beliefs in the area. He, however, asked for clemency because the earthquake that followed the seemingly immature and irresponsible behavior are two separate incidents and are not in any way related.

“I have got every faith in their judicial system. I just hope they don’t make an example of them after the tragic earthquake,” he told The Guardian.

The June 5 magnitude 6.0 earthquake damaged roads and buildings on Sabah’s west coast. It also destroyed one of the twin rock formations on Mount Kinabalu known as the “Donkey’s Ears.” Mount Kinabalu is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a popular climbing destination. Among those who died from the tremor include nine Singaporeans, six Malaysians, a Filipino, one Chinese and one Japanese citizen.

Jalaluddin Abdul Rahman, police commissioner of the Malaysian State of Sabah, said they are still searching for the other six tourists.