Hiking events

Wentworth Falls landslide: How a British family was killed while hiking in a popular tourist spot

A British family of five at the center of a deadly landslide tragedy have been allowed to use a treacherous hiking trail despite weeks of torrential rain making the area unsafe for hikers.

A 49-year-old father and his 9-year-old son have died as a 50-year-old mother and another 14-year-old teenager fight for their lives after a horrific landslide near Wentworth Falls in the Blue Mountains on Monday .

A multi-agency rescue operation was launched to recover the family – a husband, wife and three children – from the 5km loop track at Wentworth Pass after emergency services were called at around 1.40pm.

The woman and 14-year-old boy, who suffered serious head and abdominal injuries, were rescued by paramedics just before 6 p.m.

They were airlifted to Westmead Hospital and Children’s Hospital in critical condition.

A 15-year-old girl, who was not injured, ran off the track and is being treated for shock.

The vacationing family were enjoying a warm and sunny Monday after weeks of rain in Sydney and the Blue Mountains.

A video posted by the sports and leisure blog ‘Find My Australia’ shows hikers descending the steep cliff and ascending muddy embankments at the weekend.

While scenic, the clip highlights the precarious nature of the valley walk, which features steep descents down narrow stone stairways and towering rock walls.

Two bushwalkers have died following a landslide in the Blue Mountains west of Sydney

A teenage boy and a woman were airlifted to hospital in critical conditions, while a fifth family member - a 15-year-old girl - was uninjured

A teenage boy and a woman were airlifted to hospital in critical conditions, while a fifth family member – a 15-year-old girl – was uninjured

Rescuers had struggled to access victims due not only to the remote location, but also to the treacherous terrain and unstable trail due to days of heavy downpours across the Blue Mountains.

The Wentworth Pass track is notoriously steep and is considered to be difficulty level four under guidelines from the NSW National Park and Wildlife Service, which recommends that only experienced hikers use it.

Despite the muddy and slippery conditions, NSW Police said the part of the track where the tragedy happened was open to the public.

Several areas around Wentworth Falls have been closed since March 11 due to flood damage, with a major landslide recently closing Kedumba Valley Road, which is next to the trail.

National Pass, another trail about 350 yards from Monday’s deadly incident, has also been closed in recent weeks due to an “ongoing rockfall hazard”.

A man who was at the popular tourist site around the same time as the Brits told Daily Mail Australia on Monday that he had cautiously halted his hike because the ground was muddy and the stairs were wet and he had recently injured his leg during a trek.

In an article published an hour after the tragedy, trail running organizer Ultra-Trail Australia announced that the Wentworth Falls track needed to be upgraded later this week to ensure it was safe in time for their next event.

“We have worked closely with [National Parks and Council teams] to ensure that our courses will be ready from May 12-15, and we are confident that they will be ready in five weeks, the group wrote on its Facebook page around 2:30 p.m.

The tragedy happened near the Wentworth Pass <a class=hiking trail in the Blue Mountains, around 50km west of Sydney” class=”blkBorder img-share” style=”max-width:100%” />

The tragedy happened near the Wentworth Pass hiking trail in the Blue Mountains, around 50km west of Sydney

Paramedics were winched from a rescue helicopter onto the cliff as they searched for anyone who had been swept away by moving debris

Paramedics were winched from a rescue helicopter onto the cliff as they searched for anyone who had been swept away by moving debris

A rescue operation (pictured) has been launched to lift critical patients out of the area for further medical treatment

A rescue operation (pictured) has been launched to lift critical patients out of the area for further medical treatment

“Parks has asked us to advise you of a few trail closures coming this week on Thursday April 7 and Friday April 8 (weather dependent), which of course includes sections near the Fairmont Resort and Wentworth Falls.”

However, hours after the deaths, the NSW National Park and Wildlife Service announced that the section would be closed indefinitely.

“The Wentworth Falls and Valley of the Waters neighborhoods are closed following a rockfall incident,” the department wrote on its website.

“Please avoid this area until further notice.”

Hiking fanatics who have visited the same trail in recent days have expressed their shock and offered their condolences to the British family online.

Several areas around Wentworth Falls (pictured: a hiker on the trail on Monday) had been closed since March 11 due to flood damage, with a major landslide recently closing the Kedumba Valley Road.

Several areas around Wentworth Falls (pictured: a hiker on the trail on Monday) had been closed since March 11 due to flood damage, with a major landslide recently closing the Kedumba Valley Road.

“This is the trail we hiked two days earlier and were unaware of any hazards at the time,” they wrote on Facebook.

“Our hearts go out to the families of these walkers.”

The family were on holiday in Australia from the UK, NSW Police confirmed, and the British Consulate are now helping.

Authorities are still working to determine if the landslide fell on the group as they walked along a bush track, or if they were walking along the cliff that fell.

In a bizarre message an hour after the tragedy, trail running organizer Ultra-Trail Australia announced that the track at Wentworth Falls needed to be upgraded later this week to ensure it was safe in time for their next event.

In a bizarre message an hour after the tragedy, trail running organizer Ultra-Trail Australia announced that the track at Wentworth Falls needed to be upgraded later this week to ensure it was safe in time for their next event.

Seven roadside paramedics, including special ops paramedics and two rescue helicopters with a critical care doctor and a critical care paramedic on board, were dispatched to the scene

Seven roadside paramedics, including special ops paramedics and two rescue helicopters with a critical care doctor and a critical care paramedic on board, were dispatched to the scene

Acting NSW Police Detective Superintendent John Nelson described the trail as an ‘extremely dangerous and unstable environment’ during the rescue operation.

“This was a really complex and tricky rescue operation for our crews working to access patients in the rugged bush and navigating unstable ground,” he said.

“It’s absolutely heartbreaking for everyone involved and a truly tragic end to what I’m sure was supposed to be an enjoyable day,” he said.

Rescue efforts were hampered by the treacherous terrain, which was

Rescue efforts have been hampered by the treacherous terrain, which has been ‘unstable’ due to recent rains

The rescue operation also involved local police, Police Rescue, Fire and Rescue NSW, National Parks & Wildlife Services, Blue Mountains detectives and PolAir and rescue helicopters.

The rescue operation also involved local police, Police Rescue, Fire and Rescue NSW, National Parks & Wildlife Services, Blue Mountains detectives and PolAir and rescue helicopters.

Blue Mountains City Council Mayor Mark Greenhill shared his thoughts with the victims, their families and friends.

“Whether they reside here or not, those who come to our beautiful Blue Mountains are close to our hearts,” Mr. Greenhill said.

“Times like this cause pain and heartbreak for our entire Blue Mountains family.”

Seven roadside paramedics, including special operations paramedics and two rescue helicopters with a critical care doctor and critical care paramedic on board, were dispatched to the scene.

The rescue operation also involved local police, Police Rescue, Fire and Rescue NSW, National Parks & Wildlife Services, Blue Mountains detectives and PolAir and rescue helicopters.

Wentworth Pass Loop is a 5km hiking trail through the Blue Mountains National Park.  Pictured: An emergency services worker at the scene on Monday

Wentworth Pass Loop is a 5km hiking trail through the Blue Mountains National Park. Pictured: An emergency services worker at the scene on Monday