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Two Canadians among those arrested by the Malaysian government after last week's earthquake have been freed.

Naked Canadians' apology is closure to earthquake drama

Daniel Martins
Digital Reporter

Wednesday, June 17, 2015, 9:40 AM - The Canadian siblings from Saskatchewan who were deported earlier this month for posing nude at the top of a sacred mountain in Malaysia issued an apology on their private Facebook pages.

The brother and sister were among a group of tourists charged and fined ($1,800 each) for the indecent act atop Mount Kinabalu, which locals believe prompted an earthquake on the mountain that killed 18 people.

The apology went as follows:

"Lindsey and I wish to express that we are deeply sorry for offending the local indigenous people of the Mount Kinabalu region. During our personal trekking experience, we were not made aware of the sacredness of the mountain. The contents of our hearts and everything else that was laid bare during our summit experience, were a reflection of the exuberance and joy we felt for our achievement of climbing the tallest peak in South East Asia; there was absolutely no ill intent. 'The 'Dynamic Duo' also wish to express gratitude to everyone who supported us in every way during this ordeal; to our security, a quick trial and a safe return home. This is an experience that we have learned from and will never forget."

The post ended with a quote attributed to Mark Twain: "Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence in society."

The siblings from Saskatchewan were detained along with a Dutch man and British woman, the latter of whom was detained by authorities after she tried to leave the territory for the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur. The others turned themselves in to authorities.

The four were freed from jail after pleading guilty to committing obscene acts in a public place, as they were accused of causing the quake by stripping atop Mount Kinabalu. Instead of imposing the maximum sentence of three months in prison, the judge ordered the group to serve three days in jail from the time of arrest, which was June 9. The group promised to apologize to the Malaysian people and were also fined $5,000 Malaysian ringgit (about $1,640 CAD), according to The Guardian.

"This court accepted the plea of guilty as mitigation," said the judge at a court in Kota Kinabalu, the capital of Sabah state. He also added that the tourists showed "remorse."

The group stripped because they challenged one another to stand the cold of the mountain as temperatures hovered around zero degrees, according to lawyer Ronny Cham, The Guardian reports. Cham explained to the judge that the tourists were ignorant of the culture, tradition and belief of the local people. They suffered "shame, ridicule and humiliation to themselves, their parents and possibly even their country... They have paid a heavy price... Lost personal integrity and self esteem," he said.

Malaysian authorities continue to search for six other foreign tourists who were part of the group that stripped down on the mountain.

Sri Alfred Jabu, the deputy chief minister of the state of Sabah, which is located in the north of the island of Borneo, told state media he agreed with local indigenous people that the tourists "may have angered the spirit of the mountain" by their actions.

Photo posted on the Kinabalu Park’s Facebook page appears to show the 10 tourists who posed naked at Mount Kinabalu in May.

The Magnitude 5.9 earthquake that stuck last week killed at least 16 people and damaged local towns and infrastructure.

Media coverage says the two Canadians were brothers, and Malaysian police did not release their names, but they were previously identified as Lindsey Petersen, 23, and Danielle Petersen, 22, a brother and sister from Saskatchewan.

The mountain is a popular spot for climbers and tourists. Several groups had risen early to make the mountain climb to take enjoy the sunrise from the summit just before the earthquake struck.

A group of about 75 tour guides have been applauded for their bravery, after leading stranded climbers downhill to safety after helicopters failed to arrive. 

Groups spent nearly 10 hours navigating wild mountain terrain, as most trails were obscured by earthquake debris. After hiking through the night, they were able to reach the bottom of the hill in the early morning hours on Saturday.

Several buildings were damaged near the epicenter in the town of Ranau, including the local hospital. The structural damage hindered efforts to treat the wounded.

Tremors triggered landslides and rockslides across the island. Sections of a major road have been destroyed by ripples of seismic force.

The powerful quake caused one of the the mountain peaks known as the "Donkey's Ears," to break off.

At 4,095 meters above sea level, Kinabalu is one of the highest mountains in Southeast Asia and a popular tourist attraction in the the state of Sabah, in Malaysian Borneo.

All climbing activity has been prohibited at the Mount Kinabalu site until further notice, though authorities expect the closure could last for several weeks.

Source: Borneo Post Online | Toronto StarCNN | The Guardian 

With files from Katie Jones and Leeanna McLean.

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