Posing nude
Mount Kinabalu is considered sacred by Borneo's Kadazan Dusun peoplesThe Star/Asia News Network

A Brit accused of starting the Mount Kinabalu earthquake, which left 18 dead and over 100 stranded, by posing naked on a sacred peak has said her actions were "stupid and disrespectful". Eleanor Hawkins, 23, is currently being held in custody with three other Western backpackers. She has apologised for any offence caused.

The Derby native is officially being investigated for indecent exposure. However, deputy chief minister for the state of Sabah, Joseph Pairin Kitingan, has blamed the backpackers for the earthquake, which measured 5.9 on the Richter scale.

He said the tourists had showed "disrespect to the sacred mountain" and that a special ritual will be conducted to "appease the mountain spirit".

Speaking to the Press Association, Hawkins' family said: "We spoke to her. She's OK, she's very scared, she's very upset.

"She's been arrested. It's not a situation she's been in before so it's not good. We've talked to the consulate and arranged a lawyer."

Hawkins' father, who runs a mechanical engineering business, said his daughter was clearly naked in photos on the peak of Kinabalu, which have been posted on social media, but called for the incident to not be "blown out of all proportion".

The matter has caused a storm on Twitter with some attacking the group for not respecting the cultural values of the region. Others have sympathised with the backpackers and suggested it is ridiculous to blame an earthquake on nudity. One twitter user tweeted that "public nudity is not our culture".

Travel blogger Emil Kaminski has faced a backlash for posting the original photo and making comments some have called offensive. In addition, he has release a 12-minute video in which he calls Kitingan "an idiot".