The Malaysian authorities have combed an area on a Johor mountain to search for two Singaporeans who went missing on Monday evening, basing the search on the duo’s last reported location from a phone signal.

But the authorities have so far failed to find the hikers.

The pair, a man and a woman, both 27 years old, had gone to Gunung Pulai, in Johor’s Kulai district, for a hike. Kulai is located about an hour north of Johor Baru by car.

The hikers have been identified by police as Mr Dominick Tan Chang Xiang and Ms Lum Jie.

Mr Tan is reportedly an experienced climber and had previously hiked up Gunung Pulai.

The area is part of the Gunung Pulai Forest Reserve.

The authorities have beefed up their search team, which was almost 100-strong yesterday, up from 60 people on Tuesday. They comprise police officers, park rangers, members of the Fire and Rescue Department and volunteers.

The search-and-rescue team has been divided into nine groups so as to cover a wider area.

“We detected their location from the last phone call made and had asked them not to move – to remain in the area,” Kulai district’s police chief, Superintendent Dzulkhairi Mokhtar, told The Straits Times.

The two hikers had made the first emergency telephone call to the police at 5.55pm on Monday after losing their way on the 654m-high mountain.

State news agency Bernama reported that the pair are believed to have lost their way after taking a lesser known route.

Police last contacted them on Monday at 10pm, when the duo were believed to be about 1.5km away from the foot of the mountain.

Police said the current search area is 36 sq km, and that they had cordoned off an area based on where the two were last traced.

Bernama also said that Singapore’s Consul-General in Johor Baru, Mr Rajpal Singh, was at the search-and-rescue operations centre and had talked to the families of the missing hikers.

According to Malaysian media reports, the mountain is temporarily closed to the public due to the rainy season, but the pair had trekked up via a small hiking trail. They had parked a Singapore-registered car in front of a home and gone up the mountain at noon on Monday.

Facebook user Chloe Quek posted a message that the woman was last seen wearing a green top, tights and running shoes, and carrying a backpack.

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