Alive after 18 days in a ravine – the tourist who went for a walk

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The Independent Online

A Dutch tourist was rescued yesterday after surviving for 18 days in a ravine without food or shelter amid the seaside cliffs near Malaga.

Mary-Anne Goossens, a 48-year-old mother of two, was spotted by a group of hikers near the source of the river Chillar, outside the resort town of Nerja, where she left for a picturesque hike on 16 June. She was trapped between rocks and two waterfalls along the river.

Rescue workers called it a "miracle" as Ms Goossens hobbled from rescue helicopter to the emergency unit of the hospital, alert and speaking, after her ordeal. She said she was "weak and hungry" but she was reported to be in good condition.

Ms Goossens, a librarian from the southern village of Stramproy in the Netherlands, had planned a 10-day holiday in Nerja, with excursions to Sierra Almijara Natural Park and other must-see natural spots. She kept in constant contact with her two sons back home until the hike. Her last known movement was a taxi ride to the village of Frigiliana, a starting point to explore the park.

Ms Goossens reportedly lost her way while hiking in the mountains and walked for days trying unsuccessfully to find the nearest village. She then decided to follow the course of Chillar to ensure a source of water while waiting for someone to find her. But nobody did. At some point, she fell into the pit, making it even harder to find her, and to extricate her.

Her family launched a mass search party for her on 24 June, starting at Frigiliana and the caves of Nerja, but to no avail. Her ex-husband and son travelled to Spain to lead the search, while her daughter co-ordinated a search back home. They set up a website and made a YouTube video calling for help.

The group of hikers who spotted her yesterday morning dropped food and clothing from atop a cliff and spoke to her in English, but they could not help her. Then they called the civil guardsmen, who finally reached her by helicopter. She "co-operated in her own rescue," they said.