Gap year girl held after posing topless on sacred mountain
10 buffalo or three months in jail
A daring British grad who was arrested for stripping on a mountain is being blamed for a fatal earthquake.
Eleanor Hawkins, 24, who studied at Southampton, is one of five western gap year tourists accused of angering the gods.
They climbed the highest peak in Malaysia, took their clothes off and posed for a cheeky snap. But the peak, a UNESCO world heritage site, is said to be a resting place for spirits.
Mount Kinabalu, on the island of Borneo, is a popular climbing spot also sacred with local tribes.
Former head girl Eleanor, who achieved four As in her A-levels at £11,700-a-year Ockbrook School in Derbyshire, is said to be very upset as she faces three months in jail for obscenity.
As she sits in a cell in Borneo, her father Tim Hawkins told The Guardian: “I would like to appeal to the Malaysian authorities. I have got every faith in their judicial system. I just hope they don’t make an example of them after the tragic earthquake.
“She is obviously upset. She’s pretty scared. But it was good to speak to her.
“She’s kind of relieved because she saw it coming. It’s good to know where she is. It is not the kind of situation you envisage when your daughter goes travelling.”
The snaps showed the four men fully naked and six girls topless on Mt Kinabalu in the state of Sabah. An earthquake registering 6.0 on the Richter scale killed 18 climbers just six days after the pics were taken.
Rare in Malysia, the earthquake is being blamed by tribesmen on a mountain phantom and the ghosts of their ancestors venting their rage at the foreigner’s antics.
Eleanor, from Derby, has a Master’s degree in Aerospace Engineering. She was arrested as she tried to board a flight from Sabah to Kuala Lumpar.
Malaysian tribal chiefs have called for hapless Eleanor to be jailed or pay a fine of 10 buffalo, called a sogit.
Priest Tindarama Aman Sirom Simbuna said: “The tourists who angered the guardian of the mountain should pay for their mistakes by giving sogit.
“This should be in the form of ten male or female buffalo.”
Malaysian police say six tourists are still at large.
Sabah Deputy Chief Minister Joseph Pairin Kitingan, blamed the foreigners for showing ‘disrespect to the sacred mountain’ and causing the earthquake.
He said a special ritual will be conducted to “appease the mountain spirit.”
The Foreign Office confirmed a British National had been arrested.
Lawyer Ronny Cham has asked for Ellie and her fellow strippers to be separated from other inmates because of the huge public outrage, calling the situation “ridiculous”.
He told the Daily Mail: “We want to protect their safety. People are laying blame on them for offending the mountain.
“There is a lot of stupidity involved and unfortunately politicians have jumped on the bandwagon to condemn them for causing the earthquake, which is ridiculous.”
Unlucky Eleanor was arrested with four others. Canadian Lindsey Petersen, 22, and his sister, Danielle, 23, and Dutch man Dylan Snel, also 23, surrendered themselves at a police station in Sabah yesterday evening.
Emil Kaminski, 33, is understood to be the group’s tour guide. He was also arrested.
Canadian Emil posted a photograph of the group stripping on his Facebook and a video.
In the video he said: “It’s just a fucking mountain.”