Twelve people have been seriously injured and at least eight more have been hospitalized after a Tourist boat crash at Horizontal Falls in the Kimberley region of Western Australia.
It is understood that the ship may have capsized or made landfall in the popular tourist attraction of Talbot Bay, some 250km northeast of Broome, on Friday morning.
The Royal Flying Doctor Service said it had been called in to help with more than 20 patients, 12 of whom had serious injuries.
Four RFDS aircraft carrying six doctors and six nurses were deployed to respond to the incident, with two arriving at 2pm local time (4pm AEST). Doctors have been evaluating people on the ship.
Some patients have had to be flown to safety by helicopter to reach the RFDS planes.
“The first group of patients with minor injuries have been transported to Broome by seaplane for further evaluation and treatment at Broome hospital,” RFDS said in a statement.
“Approximately 12 more patients with more serious injuries will be flown to Perth or Broome for further treatment this afternoon.”
The most seriously injured patients were expected to land in Broome around 4:30 p.m. local time.
Hospitals in the northern half of the WA country’s health services network were told to prepare for the arrival of up to 25 patients.
The tour boat was called the Falls Express and was operated by Horizontal Falls Seaplane Adventures, a Broome-based tour company. In a statement, the company said there were 28 people on board.
“The Falls Express, guided by an experienced skipper during an early morning tour, was involved in the incident while traveling over the falls,” the company said in a statement. “The vessel immediately returned to the pontoon.”
“The operator can confirm that there were 26 passengers and 2 crew members on board and that some guests sustained injuries. Our team is working with The Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) and the emergency services that will be landing shortly to provide medevac and medical assistance as required.”
Broome police said in a statement that they were “dealing with an ongoing incident at Horizontal Falls.”
“Several people have been injured, but the injuries are not believed to be life-threatening,” the statement said.
Horizontal Falls is a fast-moving patch of water at the entrance to Talbot Bay. The “waterfall” is caused by 10 meters of water gushing between two narrow chasms. It’s a popular destination for speedboat tours, but the coastline is treacherous.