Woman rescued after 12 nights stranded in Australian Outback

Two people remain missing

Tamra McBeath-Riley, who has been rescued, and Claire Hockridge, who is still missing. Courtesy NT Police
Tamra McBeath-Riley, who has been rescued, and Claire Hockridge, who is still missing. Courtesy NT Police

A woman has been rescued after almost two weeks wandering the Australian outback.

Tamra McBeath-Riley, 52, was being treated in an Alice Springs hospital for dehydration and exposure after she was found late Sunday, Police Superintendent Pauline Vicary said. The air search continued on Monday for her friends Claire Hockridge, 46, and Phu Tran, 40.

The three set out from Alice Springs for an afternoon drive on November 19 and their car became bogged in a riverbed southwest of the town.

Ms McBeath-Riley found water about 1.5 kilometres north of the car.

“Sensibly she appears to have stayed where the water is and has been drinking that and that’s probably what kept her going,” Ms Vicary said.

McBeath-Riley said she and her companions found a waterhole. Her companions began trekking 20 kilometres toward a highway on Thursday, planning to avoid the desert heat, which came close to 40 degrees Celsius in recent days, by walking at night and carrying up to 7 litres of water.

Ms McBeath-Riley said she decided to stay at the waterhole with a dog that she did not think would survive a walk to the Stuart Highway, which connects Australia’s north and south coasts. They did not know anyone was looking for them.

“When the helicopter found me, I thought that Claire and Phu had reached the highway. That was my immediate thought. So to find that’s not the case is worrying,” McBeath-Riley told reporters.

Ms Vicary said searchers had found one set of footprints.

“It’s quite a diverse terrain. There’s sandy dunes, there’s hard clay, there’s areas of dense trees, but there are also rocks and ranges in the area,” Ms Vicary said.

The pair had little food with them, she said.

A cattle rancher played a key role in saving the woman, telling police that he spotted tire tracks in an area that had not been searched.

“As a result of that information, we were able to locate the vehicle and then from there they have followed some of the other tracks and have located her,” Ms Vicary said.

Published: December 2, 2019 10:25 AM


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