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Harsh criticism of decision to resume canyoning at site of disaster

The company responsible for a canyoning excursion that killed 21 people last summer near the Swiss town of Interlaken, wants to start taking groups down the site of the tragedy again. But a relative of two of the victims has criticised the decision.

The company responsible for a canyoning excursion that resulted in disaster last July, when 21 people died near the Swiss town of Interlaken, wants to start taking groups down the site of the tragedy again. Adventure World said it would resume trips down the Saxeten gorge on May 1.
But a relative of two of the victims has criticised the decision.

Gary Redmond, the Australian father of Scott, who died in the disaster, and father-in-law of Alisa, whose body has not been found, said: "It sort of defies common decency, and I think it's irresponsible, not only of them, but perhaps the powers-that-be in Switzerland, for this to be allowed to go ahead."
Speaking on Australian public radio, Redmond said: "As a parent who's lost not only a son but a daughter-in-law, I find it an affront to their memory this could happen."

Redmond added that Australia didn't want further deaths which could happen at an time, as long as the investigations were still underway.

However, a statement by the company said the decision had been taken "after careful analysis of all aspects". Adventure World said it is "developing an early warning system to reduce any risks from the sport". The "high-water monitoring system (HMS)" was conceived by the Zurich company, Meteodat, and is supposed to deliver information on water levels in mountain rivers.

The accident happened on July 27 1999, when a flash flood swept through the river without warning, killing 18 tourists and three guides, all aged between 18 and 31.

The Swiss authorities are investigating 11 people involved with organizing the trip on charges of negligent homicide - three of whom are part owners of Adventure World.

Swissinfo with agencies.


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