Miracle survivor lived on ‘freshwater and hope’
A KOREAN bushwalker has told of her "miracle" survival in a six-day ordeal lost in jungle on Mt Tyson at Tully in far north Queensland.
Joohee Han, 25, told rescuers she lived on "freshwater and hope" after she became disoriented and fell down a cliff face into a mountain ravine halfway down the 678m summit.
"She was sobbing with joy when we found her," Army tracker Sergeant Darren Blair, of Tully's Jungle Warfare Training Centre told The Courier-Mail.
"She was making a lot of noise, but was in good spirits and had only minor injuries.
"Luckily, where she came to grief, there's a creek flowing through, so she had a lot of water, that's what kept her going."
Ms Han was winched out of the thick, almost impenetrable jungle terrain by the Townsville-based Rescue Helicopter and flown to Tully Hospital, less than a kilometre away at the base of the mountain at 12.30pm yesterday.
Ms Han told rescuers she slipped at Scout Rock, near the Summit, knocking herself out for "five or more hours".
When she came to she had lost her bearings and, deep in the jungle, ended up at the base of a slippery waterfall ravine where she stayed for six days.
"Her chances for survival were near zero," rescue chopper paramedic Hannah Gaulke said.
"The entire time she was missing she had no food at all."
Mt Tyson is known to have claimed at least one life after the body of a missing hiker was found 10 years after he was reported missing.
Ms Han, a banana farm worker on a working holiday visa, had gone for a solo bushwalk on the four-hour round trek last Friday.
On the way down, she lost the track and broke her teeth in the headlong tumble down into the 20m-deep gorge.
For the six days she was stuck in the crevasse, as temperatures plunged to 9C, she could hear the traffic and noise of Tully but couldn't find a way out. Her mobile phone was flat, she had no food, she was stuck.
Survival experts told search crews survivability in the jungle with access to water can be up to two weeks.
"She's built like a garden gnome, she's only a wee lass," Scottish farm worker and friend Craig Strathie said, outside the hospital. "She's a good laugh and very fit, a long distance runner, and I think that's what got her through."
Mr Strathie, who lives in the same backpacker hostel, helped raise the alarm on Wednesday afternoon.
Police Inspector Steve Kersley said 20 Army jungle specialists, 20 SES, police and the rescue chopper took part in the two-day search mission.
He said the delay in her being reported missing was because it was thought she had gone to Cairns for a few days to stay with a friend.
"She's done well to survive. What a relief. What a fantastic outcome. It goes to show miracles do happen."