Malaysian official blames deadly earthquake on mountain climbers who posed naked

A Malaysian government official has blamed last week's deadly earthquake on a group of ten tourists whom he claimed "showed disrespect to [a] sacred mountain" by posing for photos naked at the summit last week.

Joseph Pairin Kitingan, the deputy chief minister for the Malaysian state of Sabah, told reporters Saturday that a special ritual would be conducted at a later date to "appease the mountain spirit." Meanwhile, authorities said that five of the ten climbers were believed to still be in Malaysia and would not be permitted to leave on grounds of gross indecency.

The foreigners, who included two Canadians, two Dutch and a German national, broke away from their group and stripped naked before taking photos at the mountain peak on May 30, officials have said.

Nicolas Doire, spokesman for Canada's Department of Foreign Affairs, said consular officials in Malaysia have contacted local authorities and are assisting the two Canadians who are among those barred from leaving Malaysia. Foreign Affairs would not confirm the identity of the Canadians, citing privacy concerns, but Malaysia's foreign affairs ministry identified them to The Canadian Press as siblings Lindsey Petersen and Danielle Petersen.

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