A British lawyer and his nine-year-old son were killed in a landslide in Australia while on “the holiday of a lifetime” as his wife and teen son fight for their lives.
Mehraab Nazir, 49, died at the scene in the Blue Mountains, north of Sydney, after the freak accident during a family hike on Monday.
His teenage daughter made a heartbreaking call to emergency services after narrowly escaping the landslip with her life.
Her dad, high-ranking finance lawyer Mr. Nazir, and her younger brother, nine, tragically died at the scene at the Wentworth Pass in Wentworth Falls, while her mom, 50, and another boy aged 14 were airlifted to the hospital in critical condition.
The family moved to Sydney from London a decade ago when Nazir – who studied at the University of Essex – became a partner at advisory firm Watson Farley and Williams, reports The Daily Telegraph.
They were on holiday in the area when rocks suddenly fell down and crushed Nazir and his son during a family hike.
His daughter, 15, managed to call Australia’s Triple-0 emergency service, Sydney’s Daily Telegraph reports.
The distraught teenager told the operator she had lost contact with her family saying: “I don’t know where we are.”
After the Monday lunchtime tragedy, rescue crews worked late into the night to bring the woman and boy to safety from the canopy below the Wentworth Falls track.
Paramedics had to be winched down by helicopter as they could not reach the patients over the “extremely dangerous, unstable” terrain.
The mum was hoisted out from beneath trees on the cliffside in a delicate operation.
Both she and her son have serious head and abdominal injuries and had to be sedated to be rescued, NSW Ambulance Acting Chief Superintendent Stewart Clarke said.
Rescuers then returned to complete the grim task of recovering the two bodies.
The 15-year-old girl was able to walk out of the area and was later treated for shock in the hospital.
Acting Superintendent John Nelson said the victims were crushed by falling rocks on a popular walking trail, reports ABC news.
“There were five people that were bushwalking,” he said.
“Unfortunately there has been a landslip while they have been bushwalking.”
Nelson said a 15-year-old girl was walked out of dense bushland by paramedics, and she is lucky to be alive.
“It’s quite a tragic scene, we do have a girl who is walking out at the moment who is obviously extremely distressed and we’re trying to talk to her to obtain further information,” he added.
The remote mountainous site is around a 90-minute walk from the car park, and has been lashed by weeks of torrential rain.
Ambulance chief Stewart Clarke said it had been “a heartbreaking experience” for everyone involved in the rescue.
He said: “Any situation as has been described is obviously exceptionally confronting and heartbreaking, especially when you start involving children.”
Police were guarding the hiking trail today amid questions about why it was open following recent floods.
The National Parks and Wildlife Service website said that part of the track was closed “due to flood damage and ongoing rockfall risk”.
However, Nelson said the part of the track where the family was walking was open.
New South Wales premier Dominic Perrottet called the incident “tragic” and said he would be seeking advice as to whether the walking track should have been open given recent heavy rain.
“These tragedies occur too often so anything we can do to keep people safe, we will,” Mr. Perrottet told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation on Tuesday.
“Obviously, the Blue Mountains is a place where people love to go trekking. It’s one of the wonders of the world but when those tragedies occur it would be remiss of any government not to act.”
Following the removal of the bodies, the New South Wales Department of Environment and Heritage announced that the area was closed to the public until further notice and a “comprehensive review” would be undertaken.
“NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service has a world class program in place to assess geotechnical risks and maintain the safety of walking tracks and other infrastructure to the greatest extent practicable,” the statement said.
“Unfortunately it is not possible to predict and eliminate all natural risks such as rockslides, which can occasionally occur around the state.”
The Department added that the walking track was inspected in the days before the rockslide as part of a routine track assessment program.
This story originally appeared on The Sun and has been reproduced here with permission.