Kuala Lumpur - A 6.0-magnitude earthquake struck near Malaysia's Mount Kinabalu on Friday, damaging roads in the region and prompting rescue efforts for climbers feared trapped and possibly injured on the mountain, officials and reports said.
The US Geological Survey said the quake struck at a depth of 10km, with its epicentre located about 54km east of Kota Kinabalu, capital of the Malaysian state of Sabah.
No tsunami warning was issued, and there were no initial reports of major damage or casualties.
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But social media users uploaded photos showing damaged roads, shattered storefront windows, cracked walls and floors, and rooms strewn with debris flung from shelves.
The state's minister for tourism and the environment, Masidi Manjun, said the quake may also have damaged the iconic "Donkey's Ears" rock outcroppings that form a distinctive part of the 4 095m mountain's wide, craggy peak.
"Rescue operations underway at Mount Kinabalu. There were reports of climbers trapped and injured," Masidi tweeted.
"Sadly, the iconic Donkey's Ear at Mount Kinabalu may have been badly damaged by the tremor today. Awaiting confirmation."
Climbing activities halted
He said some facilities on the huge mountain were badly damaged and that all climbing activities had been halted for safety reasons as "loose stones and boulders" had been reported tumbling down the peak.
Colin Forsythe, a resident of Kota Kinabalu, said the quake felt "as if a truck had crashed into a brick wall. That is what I felt."
He said the quake lasted around 15 seconds.
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Major earthquakes are rare in Malaysia, which lies just outside the Ring of Fire, the belt of seismic activity running around the Pacific basin.
Local media reports said residents fled in terror from homes in the region as well as from Kota Kinabalu's International Airport.