UK & World News

  • 7 November 2012, 22:10

Man Dies Of Thirst In Australian Outback

A 25-year-old conservation worker has died of dehydration in the Australian outback after his vehicle got stuck on a sand dune.

Another man, 30, suffered from extreme dehydration and heat exhaustion and has been recovering in hospital.

The accident prompted officials to renew their warnings over the risks of travelling in the vast, barren and sparsely-populated area.

The pair had been on a routine morning check of a spring near the Simpson Desert, in southeast Queensland state, when their 4x4 became bogged down on Monday.

After several attempts to free the vehicle, they tried to walk the 10 miles (16km) back to their station, despite temperatures of 45C (113 degrees Fahrenheit).

Mauritz 'Mo' Pieterse collapsed several kilometres from his station and died, while his colleague was found by residents of a neighbouring property in a distressed state and was airlifted to hospital.

"When they were found, they had insufficient water supplies with them and obviously dehydration crept in very quickly," police inspector Paul Biggin said.

Mr Pieterse was an Australian national who was born in South Africa, reports said. His profile picture on Facebook shows him outdoors, wearing a hat and smiling.

"We were told his last words were, 'Tell my family that I love them, I'm not going to make it but you have to keep going'," the victim's mother, Geraldine Pieterse, was quoted as saying by Australian newspaper Courier Mail.

Mr Biggin stressed that anybody travelling in Australia's remote areas should be well prepared.

"Regardless of whether you are working or travelling -- make sure you stock up on plenty of water and have communications. Everyone is susceptible to those high-range temperatures that we have in summer," he said.

"It would appear, in the circumstances, there have been a number of mistakes made," Mr Biggin said. "Unfortunately one young man has lost his life."

The two men were conservationists working for Bush Heritage, an organisation that protects Australia's unique animals, plants and habitats.