Malaysian authorities on Tuesday arrested a foreign national for allegedly stripping naked to pose for pictures on the country’s highest peak, Mount Kinabalu, an act some Malaysians have said angered the spirits of the mountain and caused an earthquake.
Police in the eastern state of Sabah arrested a foreign woman involved in the incident, state news agency Bernama reported. The nationality of the woman was not disclosed.
Acting police chief Keong Ho Eng said the woman was held at the airport in the town of Tawau on Tuesday afternoon, as she was about to leave for Kuala Lumpur, the Malaysian capital.
A group of tourists stripped to take pictures at the peak of Mount Kinabalu on May 30, infuriating many who regarded the act as disrespectful. The pictures were widely circulated on Internet websites and social media.
It was not clear if the foreigners would be charged with any offence. Malaysian police and immigration officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
News reports said those involved in the incident had been barred from leaving Sabah, to allow police to investigate. This week, some reports said two Canadians in the group were stopped from leaving the country.
On Tuesday, the Canadian High Commission in Kuala Lumpur told Reuters it was aware of the media reports. A spokesman said it was in touch with Sabah authorities and consular assistance was being provided.
At least 16 climbers died after last Friday’s earthquake of magnitude 6.0 struck the area, with another two missing. Among the dead were six Malaysians, seven Singaporeans, and one each from China, Japan and the Philippines.
As the photographs of the foreigners emerged, some Malaysians on social media, and even government officials, began linking the stripping on the mountain to the earthquake.
“It is a sacred mountain and you cannot take it lightly,” Joseph Pairin Kitingan, deputy chief minister of the state of Sabah, was quoted as saying.