After stripping naked and posing for photos atop a Malaysian mountain, a group of western tourists have been barred from leaving the country as Malaysian officials hold them responsible for the deadly earthquake on Friday, saying their actions "disrespected" the mountain.
While the earthquake occurred a week after the tourists stripped on top of Mount Kinabalu, locals believe the tourists' actions made the “mountain spirits mad." The mountain is believed by certain locals to be the home of the spirits of the deceased.
"Whether other people believe this or not, it’s what we Sabahans believe," Deputy Chief Minister of Sabah , Tan Sri Joseph Pairin Kitingan said. "When the earthquake happened, it’s like a confirmation of our beliefs. There is almost certainly a connection. We have to take this as a reminder that local beliefs and customs are not to be disrespected."
On Sunday, the death toll from the 6.0-magnitude earthquake had risen to 16, including six children. Those on Mount Kinabalu when the quake occurred reported boulders "the size of cars" hurtling down the mountain.
According to the Digital Journal, Kitingan promised the tourists will face the appropriate consequences in accordance to native law.
The group of stripping tourists included two Canadian siblings, two Dutch citizens, and one German citizen, according to the Toronto Star.
Maylay Mail Online reported the group's tour guide attempted to stop the tourists from stripping but was called "stupid" and told to "go to hell" by the tourists.