Malaysia has detained Western tourists who stripped naked on Mount Kinabalu days before an earthquake hit the region, after local leaders blamed them for the tremor.
Even as four of the tourists have been arrested on charges of disrespecting the sacred Mount Kinabalu, a manhunt is on for the remaining six. If found guilty of committing the "sacrilegious act", the four tourists, including two from Canada, one woman from Britain and a Dutch national, will have to spend at least three months in prison, NBC reported on Thursday.
A group of 10 Western tourists reportedly not only stripped on top of Malaysia's Mount Kinabalu in Borne, but also urinated on the site, which is worshipped by the local Sabahans as "the revered place of the dead".
Local tribal leaders squarely blamed the western tourists for "the sacrilegious act" that caused the earthquake. In the 6.0 magnitude earthquake, which hit the region on 5 June, 16 tourists were killed on Mount Kinabalu, according to CNN. Six schoolchildren from Singapore were among the dead, according to BBC.
Malaysia's Deputy Chief Minister of the Sabah region, Tan Sri Joseph Pairin Kitingan, publically issued a statement critising the actions of the tourists.
"Whether other people believe this or not, it's what we Sabahans believe. 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," Kitingan said, Digital Journal reports.
A Malaysian court has put the detained tourists under police remand on charges of indecent exposure. The hearing of the case is yet to start.