Miss­ing hik­ers found safe and well

Geraldton Guardian - - Guardian | News - Adam Poulsen

Two Sin­ga­porean hik­ers who sparked a search af­ter get­ting lost in the Kal­barri Na­tional Park on Wednesday night were found safe and well yes­ter­day morn­ing.

Po­lice and State Emer­gency Ser­vice search crews bat­tled through dan­ger­ous con­di­tions on Wednesday night but were un­able to find the two women, aged 26 and 40, who had failed to re­turn from a hike to the Na­ture’s Win­dow beauty spot.

A po­lice he­li­copter and a fixed wing air­craft were despatched yes­ter­day morn­ing to help find the miss­ing hik­ers, who were found walk­ing on the track about 9am.

The women were in­ex­pe­ri­enced hik­ers and they had not taken any food or wa­ter on the walk.

Kal­barri SES unit man­ager Stephen Cable said the pair were tired, hun­gry and thirsty but lucky to have es­caped un­in­jured af­ter their or­deal.

“I was half ex­pect­ing they had fallen over a cliff face or some­thing,” he said.

“We were con­cerned be­cause we walked the en­tire loop twice and we hadn’t spot­ted them.”

Mr Cable said the women be­came lost af­ter start­ing their hike too late in the af­ter­noon.

“It takes about three to five hours to com­plete the loop, and when it got a bit dark they tried to take a short cut and got them­selves com­pletely dis­ori­en­tated. But they were smart enough to try to seek a bit of shel­ter and wait for the morn­ing.

“They man­aged to find the track again in the day­light.”

He said search crews had en­dured poor weather and risked their safety dur­ing Wednesday night’s search.

“It was very dan­ger­ous be­cause it was pour­ing with rain and very slip­pery,” Mr Cable said.

“It is tough, rocky, un­du­lat­ing coun­try with dan­ger­ous cliffs and trip haz­ards all the way, so it wouldn’t have been hard to slip off an edge.

“It’s challenging enough dur­ing the day, but at night-time it’s a whole new level — it wouldn’t have been hard for things to go pear­shaped.” Mr Cable said the search had been a shin­ing ex­am­ple of the or­gan­i­sa­tional and com­mu­ni­ca­tion skills of SES and po­lice res­cue teams.

“We put out search teams on Wednesday night and searched the loop — which is shaped like a horse­shoe — so we sent one team one way and one team the other way, and we crossed over and came back again,” he said. “We did the call­ingand-lis­ten­ing tech­nique but they didn’t re­spond, so then with the po­lice and SES it was de­cided we’d have to come back in the morn­ing and es­ca­late the search.

“We put a plan to­gether, we got in more sources, we booked air­craft and he­li­copters, we put teams out in the field and we man­aged to find them.”

Pic­ture: Kal­barri po­lice/Twit­ter

Search teams found the miss­ing hik­ers yes­ter­day morn­ing af­ter en­dur­ing mis­er­able con­di­tions the night be­fore.

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