Blue Mountains rockslide leaves one man dead and two trapped
A man died and two others were trapped with injuries for several hours after parts of a sandstone cliff fell onto a walking track in the Blue Mountains national park west of Sydney.
A medical team was winched down from a helicopter to help the stranded men, who have serious injuries, New South Wales Ambulance said.
“One patient is confirmed deceased,” an ambulance spokesman said in a statement.
NSW Ambulance received a triple-zero call before midday on Wednesday following the rock slide near the Wentworth Falls track about 8km east of Katoomba.
Mike Burgess was walking near Wentworth Falls at the time. “A big explosion of rocks must have fallen ... I think the workers were working on the National Pass above me,” he told the ABC on Wednesday.
“It sounded like dynamite, but I knew it wouldn’t be dynamite, it would be a big slab [of rock].”
The man who died was a 36-yearold contractor working on the historic National Pass track – parts of which were built by hand in the early 1900s.
The two other workers – aged 26 and 27 – were winched from the scene on Wednesday afternoon and flown by helicopter to Westmead hospital.
The 27-year-old worker suffered pelvic injuries, broken legs and a minor head injuries, and was taken to hospital in a critical but stable condition, while his 26-yearold workmate was airlifted to hospital some hours later with back and head injuries.
The section of the National Pass track has been closed since August due to “a very dangerous, unstable section of rock above the walking track” according to a NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service warning.
A NPWS spokesman described the incident as “a tragedy” and said the work area had been assessed by geotechnical engineers.
“Our condolences go to the family of the contractor who was killed and our thoughts are with the other members of the crew who were injured,” the service said in a statement.
“We will be putting in a guard overnight to preserve that crime scene,” NSW police Supt Darryl Jobson told reporters at the scene.
Jobson said family members of the men had arrived at the scene during the rescue operation.
Several sandstone sections of the cliff face fell down onto the track, according to the Seven Network. The site of the incident is a 45-minute walk along the track.
Fifteen ambulances, including special operations team paramedics, responded along with three rescue helicopters and police.
Wentworth Falls received three millimetres of rain in the 24 hours to 9am, the Bureau of Meteorology reported.
Members of the public are being asked to avoid the area.
A rescue helicopter on its way to the incident at Wentworth Falls in the Blue Mountains on Wednesday. Photograph: David Swift/AAP
A sign to the track at Wentworth Falls. Photograph: David Swift/AAP