Rescuers have recovered the bodies of nine more climbers from Malaysia's highest peak a day after it was struck by a strong earthquake, bringing the total number of dead to 13.

Mohammad Farhan Lee Abdullah, a local police chief, provided on Saturday the updated death toll and said that six are still missing on the 4,095m Mount Kinabalu, where the magnitude-six earthquake struck on Friday morning.

"There are 13 (dead) bodies. Two yesterday and 11 today. We've got six people still missing. I cannot confirm with you where they are from," he said.

Masidi Manjun, Sabah State's tourism minister, tweeted that the quake also broke one of the twin rock formations on the mountain known as the "Donkey's Ears".

Manjun told the AFP news agency that authorities were not yet ready to release the identities of the dead and missing.

Malaysian media reports said the they included members of a Singapore primary school group on an excursion to the peak, including a 12-year-old girl who was killed.

"It's very sad. The Singapore children were so happy when they arrived here, but now...," Masidi said, trailing off as he shook his head.

The United States Geological Survey reported that the earthquake struck at a shallow depth of 10km, about 15km from the town of Ranau.

There were no initial reports of injuries or deaths immediately following Friday's earthquake, but there was concern for the dozens of climbers on the mountain, where the quake sent rocks and boulders down walking trails.

About 60 rescuers and four helicopters were continuing to comb the mountain on Saturday, officials said.

The earthquake also damaged roads and buildings, including schools and a hospital on Sabah's west coast.

Source: Al Jazeera and agencies