Skip to main content

Advertisement

Advertisement

Sabah quake: Earthquake survivors battle trauma

SINGAPORE — For the past two nights, Tanjong Katong Primary School (TKPS) pupil Elliot Quok has been waking up several times during the night in a fright, jolted awake after shouting in his sleep from recurring nightmares.

Sabah quake: Earthquake survivors battle trauma

Emyr Uzayr, survivor of the Sabah earthquake recovering at KK Women's and Children's Hospital in Singapore. Photo: Nur Dan Sadri/ Facebook

SINGAPORE — For the past two nights, Tanjong Katong Primary School (TKPS) pupil Elliot Quok has been waking up several times during the night in a fright, jolted awake after shouting in his sleep from recurring nightmares.

The Primary 6 pupil yelled so loudly he woke his mother, Ms Mae Molina, 43, who would jump out of bed in shock, and run to his bedside to comfort him.

Elliot was part of a group of 29 pupils and eight teachers from the school who were on Mount Kinabalu on a school trip when an earthquake struck Sabah on Friday morning.

As he was suffering from altitude sickness, Elliot and four other students had chosen to sit out on tackling the Walk the Torq trail that morning, an act which might have saved his life, said Ms Molina, a secretary.

He was in bed at the base camp at Pendant Hut with the four students when he heard an adult shouting for them to run out. In a panic, they ran downhill towards the Mount Kinabalu base camp, during which he fell several times, she said.

While Elliot looks okay physically, his parents said he is clearly affected. He is also worried about his good friend Navdeep Singh Jaryal Raj Kumar, who was also on the trip and remains missing. He is constantly asking if there has been news.

“When he’s with us, when things are going normal, he behaves normally. But during the night when he sleeps, that’s where he starts unwinding for the day and those difficult times manifest,” said his father John Quok, 44. Elliot also told his mother that he is unsure of what is real and what is not from his nightmares and has said that he will not go on such expeditions in future, he added.

Ms Molina said she would likely bring him for counselling sessions, which have been offered by the Ministry of Education (MOE). “I think he’s in some kind of denial because he doesn’t really want to talk about (the incident and his feelings)...I think he needs to talk to someone, but when he’s ready,” she added.

Another parent, Mr Sadri Farick, 37, said his son Emyr Uzayr’s eyes would water when he gets flashbacks. He would suddenly grow quiet and stare out of the window, and when asked what he’s thinking of, Emyr would reply that he’s thinking of the sounds during the incident and the blood that he saw, said Mr Sadri.

Emyr had witnessed the entire tragedy. “He saw the teachers pulling everybody, putting their bodies on top of them, pushing them into bushes and trees. He saw how big the rocks are, how sharp they are ... (the memories) are very tough.”

He also kept asking about his missing friends, he added.

Mr Alec Wing, said his son Tristan, who was also on the trip, would rather not be at home, and prefers being with his friends who have undergone the same ordeal. He has been resting and going for the wakes of his friends. “They all want to go to the wakes, this is part of the closure process,” he said, adding that students who did not go for the trip are also traumatised and angry, asking why this had happened.

But Mr Sadri is optimistic the children will get through the trauma, and he and wife hope to lift his son’s spirits with activities he enjoys, such as travelling to nearby spots, swimming or playing games, and engaging in prayer.

Counselling is an option he is considering, and besides MOE, other welfare groups have approached him to provide him with assistance.

“These are a strong bunch of kids, they are all leaders in the school. So I believe they can and will overcome this,” he said.

Read more of the latest on

Advertisement

Popular

Advertisement

Get the latest news

Subscribe to get daily news updates, insights and must reads delivered straight to your inbox.

By clicking subscribe, I agree for my personal data to be used to send me TODAY newsletters, promotional offers and for research and analysis.

Aa