Australian rescuer dies saving Britons

An emergency worker died yesterday during the rescue of two British tourists in a national park in Western Australia.

Michelle Suri, 25, and Oliver Peace, 29, were rescued in separate incidents in the Karijini National Park.

Mr Peace sustained cuts and bruises while Ms Suri is in a stable condition, although doctors had originally feared she had suffered spinal injuries.

A spokesperson for Tom Price Hospital, where they were taken, said both Britons were "fine". However, James Regan, 36, a rescue worker for the State Emergency Services died after four of the rescuers were swept away in a flash flood.

On Thursday afternoon 22 volunteers were dispatched to pull Mr Peace out of a 60-metre deep gorge using ropes and pulleys.

While in the park the rescuers were alerted to a separate incident in another part of the park, Kermit Pool, where Ms Suri had become stuck.

Inspector Wayne Dohmen said: "She had come to grief in the pool. The rescue was a prolonged operation and she was in a location which was rather inaccessible."

Four rescuers scrambled down the barren gorge and strapped Ms Suri to a stretcher. But as they were preparing to winch her to safety a flash flood swept all five downstream.

The park ranger managed to cling on to the stretcher, keeping it upright, before clambering on to a ledge. They were quickly joined by two of the rescuers. But Mr Regan disappeared in a flood of water.

Ms Suri and the remaining three rescuers were lifted to safety 12 hours later and taken to Tom Price Hospital. Despite a search involving 60 volunteers, Mr Regan could not be found. His body was eventually found at 4pm local time on Saturday.

Karijini National Park mainly comprises barren and rugged terrain and is more than 600 miles north of Perth. The two Britons had been part of separate tour groups visiting the area. Ms Suri is considering rejoining her tour, but Mr Peace is likely to remain in hospital until Monday.

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