Swiss investigation into canyoning accident stepped up

Rescuers on Thursday stepped up the search for two people still missing from Tuesday’s deadly canyoning accident near the Swiss resort of Interlaken. Nineteen bodies have been recovered and their identities are released on the Internet.

This content was published on July 29, 1999 - 13:07

Rescue teams on Thursday stepped up the search for two people still missing from Tuesday’s deadly canyoning accident near the Swiss resort of Interlaken. Nineteen bodies have been recovered so far and their identities are released on the Internet.

Investigators told a news conference in Interlaken that the identification of the victims was very difficult since the adventure seekers were carrying no identification papers and virtually no items that would facilitate easy and positive identification.

The names of the victims are being released on the Internet once their families have been notified. The address is: www.police.be.ch

The special helpline for relatives is:

(International code for Switzerland), then 41 31 634 20 51.
(For calls made in Switzerland) 031 634 20 51.

Forty-five tourists and eight guides participated in four groups in the adventure, a police spokesman said. Most of those killed in the canyoning accident in the Saxeten creek gorge came from groups two and three. Groups one and four appeared to have been spared the most.

Based on the investigative findings so far, it was assumed that the canyoning adventurers were surprised by a sudden flash flood carrying rocks and trees, which swept the tourists away.

Forensic experts said most of the victims appeared to have drowned and that many had sustained injuries and bruises to their heads. Many helmets were torn off and all shoes were sucked off by the stormy waters, police said.

Medical officials said that five of the six injured had now been released from hospital.

Investigators said they were also following up reports about the thunderstorms in the region at the time of the accident and warnings to the adventurers not to enter the gorge.

The Swiss fire brigade has said it was aware of the flood on Tuesday afternoon and emergency services had sent a man to the river to try and warn the group of the danger.

Police on Thursday resumed dragging the bottom of nearby Lake Brienz and searching rocks around the Saxeten mountain stream.


From staff and wire reports.


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