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At least 18 dead in worst river sports accident in Switzerland

At least 18 people were killed near the tourist resort of Interlaken on Tuesday evening in the worst river sports accident seen in Switzerland to date.

This content was published on July 27, 1999 - 07:14

At least 18 people were killed near the tourist resort of Interlaken on Tuesday evening in the worst river sports accident seen in Switzerland to date.

A local police spokesman confirmed that 18 people were confirmed dead in the "canyoning" accident, which happened in a gorge on the small Saxeten river near the village of Boenigen, around 60 kilometers (37 miles) southeast of the Swiss capital, Berne.

One person was still missing, police said, adding that search and rescue efforts were continuing. Six injured people were rescued.

Police did not reveal the identity of the victims but it was generally assumed that a number of foreigners were among them. Adventure World, which organised the canyoning tour, is known to have many customers from the United States, Canada and Asia.

The precise course of events remained unclear but the river is known to rise rapidly in wet weather and there was speculation that a thunderstorm in the alpine region may have caused the disaster.

Canyoning usually involves a variety of activities, including abseiling through waterfalls, jumping into pools, swimming, wading, scrambling and floating on inflatable mats.

Rescue officials said they had been alerted about the accident shortly after the first bodies were discovered floating in nearby Lake Brienz, at about six o'clock local time.


From staff and wire reports.



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