Ill-fated young tourist ‘metres from safety’
A KOREAN tourist swept away during flash flooding at a popular Far North waterhole was just two metres from safety when tragedy struck.
Queensland Fire and Emergency Services swift water rescue crews were in the midst of trying to reach the young woman, aged in her 20s, at Josephine Falls when she slipped from a rock and into the fast-moving water on Tuesday evening.
Emergency services have described the devastating scene as she was swept downstream, only for them to find her body some time later.
QFES's Far North Acting Chief Supt Eddie Lacko said the swift water team involved had been deeply affected by the event and he was travelling to speak to them and show his support yesterday.
"It was very difficult for them," he said.
"They're professionals and they go about their business, but you can tell they're pretty knocked around by this."
The same crew returned to the scene yesterday morning to retrieve the woman's body.
Cairns police Sen-Sgt James Coate said it was believed she had travelled to the falls with a group of friends from Cairns to go for a swim.
He said she got into trouble about 4pm and her friends called for help with crews arriving about 5pm.
"There had been flash flooding from a downpour up the river," he said.
"They tried to rescue her for about an hour."
Sen-Sgt Coate said conditions at the site had eased yesterday, but there had been signs in place at the time warning visitors to beware of quickly-rising water.
Police were working yesterday to formally identify the woman and contact her family.
It is understood she may have been in Australia on a working visa and her partner was among the group who travelled to the falls.
Police will prepare a report for the coroner.
The most recent drowning death at the site involved a 25-year-old English tourist in February 2016 who got into trouble in similar circumstances due to flash flooding.