Sixteen tourists seriously injured and tossed into treacherous croc-infested waters after dream trip to incredible remote natural wonder turns to terror
- Royal Flying Doctor Service, paramedics and cops rushed to remote attraction
- Horizontal Falls has some of the highest tides in the world, triggering the rapids
- Tourists come from all over the world to experience the dangerous spot
- Perth and Broome hospitals receiving badly hurt patients who had to be rescued
Sixteen tourists were seriously injured when they were tossed into crocodile-infested waters after their boat apparently capsized while trying to navigate notoriously treacherous rapids in northern Australia.
The ‘major incident’ involving a boat carrying 26 passengers and two crew occurred at Horizontal Falls in Western Australia’s Kimberley region, 250km north of Broome, at about 7am on Friday.
WA Police, the RFDS, St Johns Ambulance and WA Health were all involved in a ‘massive rescue effort’ to save the passengers who swam to a pontoon after being thrown into the dangerous waters.
It is understood the boat, driven by an experienced skipper, may have overturned in the dangerous tidal waters.
Twelve seriously injured patients are expected to be flown to Royal Perth Hospital while another four badly hurt people were believed to transported by St Johns Ambulance to Broome Hospital after the boating accident in remote WA
Jet boat tours are regularly run through the treacherous Horizontal Falls where the accident happened
Several passengers were thrown into the water at the tourist attraction, which is famous for jet boat tours through two narrow channels where huge volumes of water surge through the gaps in facing cliffs.
Twelve seriously injured patients are expected to be flown to Royal Perth Hospital while another four badly hurt people were believed to transported by St Johns Ambulance to Broome Hospital.
Others with less serious injuries were also treated in Broome.
The Royal Flying Doctor Service rushed to treat the boat passengers at the remote site and a temporary triage zone was set up at the nearby Koolan Island.
In all six aircraft, six doctors and six flight nurses were deployed.
Horizontal Falls Seaplane Adventures released a statement hours later, explaining the injuries had occurred while the boat attempted to drive through the notorious rapids.
‘Falls Express, guided by an experienced skipper during an early-morning tour, was involved in the incident while travelling through the falls,’ the statement said.
‘The vessel immediately returned to the pontoon.’
A Horizontal Falls Seaplane Adventures plane was spotted landing at Broome Airport on Friday afternoon, where passengers, some wrapped in bandages, were met by health staff.
The Royal Flying Doctor Service rushed to treat the boat passengers at the remote site and a temporary triage zone was set up at the nearby Koolan iron ore mine
The king tides create the ‘horizontal waterfall’ phenomenon
The Royal Flying Doctor Service said it had helped more than 20 patients injured in the incident with four planes rushing to the scene.
Local helicopter services were providing assistance to winch some patients to safety.
Earlier, a WA Country Health Service spokeswoman described it as a ‘serious’ incident and said a major medical response was underway.
‘Kimberley Hospitals are on stand-by and Broome Health Campus has activated an emergency alert in anticipation of patient arrivals – the first of which are expected within the hour,’ the spokeswoman told Daily Mail Australia.
In an update just after 1pm local time, WA Police said it was still dealing with the incident ‘but no injuries are believed to be life threatening’.
The ocean phenomenon is home to some of the highest tides in the world, creating what’s been dubbed a ‘horizontal waterfall’.
Horizontal Falls in Western Australia are a popular tourist attraction
Thousands of litres of water gush through the narrow gap in Talbot Bay, triggered by the region’s king tides, which sometimes fluctuate up to 10m a day.
Tourists are able to experience the falls a number of ways, with local tourism operators offering jet boat tours that speed through the dangerous rapids.
Seaplane and helicopter tours also operate in the area, allowing people to witness the raging water from the air.