Woman survives 12 days in outback on groundwater

Cheryl Sanders
December 2, 2019

A woman has been found alive after being stranded for nearly two weeks in the Australian outback. Air search continued Monday for her friends Claire Hockridge, 46, and Phu Tran, 40.

The trio had told friends and family they were going for a drive south of Alice Springs, but failed to return that night and were reported missing on Saturday, November 23.

Tamra McBeath-Riley, 52, is being treated in an Alice Springs hospital for dehydration and exposure after she was found late yesterday, Police Superintendent Pauline Vicary said.

Ms McBeath-Riley was found in good condition, having kept hydrated by boiling and drinking ground water found in the area.

'They left it in the vehicle to say that they had been bogged, and what direction they were going to be going in and to get help, ' Supt Vicary said.

"During the day it's just really hot so we dug ourselves under the auto".

McBeath-Riley told reporters the group initially survived by digging holes under their vehicle to shelter from the sun.

The group walked about 1.5km west, where they found puddles of ground water from unseasonal showers that had fallen over the dry river system in the past fortnight.

"Significantly, she seems to have stayed where the water is and has been drinking, and that's probably what pushed her to continue", Vicary told Australian Broadcasting Corp. Police also searched for her from the sky, using drones and a plane to try to spot her on the rugged terrain.

Supt Vicary said the terrain in the area was diverse. She was airlifted to a roadhouse about 55 miles from Alice Springs, the place paramedics discovered her breaking her quick with beer, cola and french fries, mentioned Andrew Everingham, the regional supervisor for St. John Ambulance.

Ms McBeath-Riley said after she and her companions found a waterhole, her companions began trekking 20km toward a highway on Thursday.

Vicary told reporters Monday that police have identified one pair of footprints in their search for Hockridge and Tran.

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