Blue Moun­tains rock­slide leaves one man dead and two trapped

The Guardian Australia - - News -

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

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