Date: 09 January 2009 Source: Office of the Minister of Conservation
The Department of Conservation (DOC) will review its safety procedures at Fox Glacier after yesterday's tragedy in which two Australian tourists died in an ice fall at the toe of the glacier, says Conservation Minister Tim Groser.
Mr Groser was visiting the West Coast yesterday on conservation business and this morning travelled to Fox Glacier township to be briefed by DOC staff on the incident.
"The human dimension to this tragedy is enormous - two brothers holidaying with their family have died. My heart goes out to their parents and family at this incredibly difficult time," says Mr Groser.
"Department staff are deeply saddened by this tragedy and its impact on the family. Staff in the area are keeping in close contact with the family and trained counsellors are with them to help.
"I have been advised that the police and DOC are doing all they can today to safely locate and recover the body of the second man, although this process has reportedly been postponed this morning for safety reasons.
"The Department will review its safety procedures at Fox Glacier. There are very clear safety barriers and warnings in place advising people not to approach the glacier face. We are working with the police to determine exactly what happened.
"The Department regularly reviews its safety procedures, and in the case of Fox Glacier, this was done as recently as August last year. Officials will look at the procedures again once the full details of this incident are clear.
"There is always a degree of decision-making involved in accessing and managing the risks of the outdoors. I will await the outcome of the reports before deciding whether there is anything more than can be done, or needs to be done, to prevent tragedies like this occurring."
Rory Newsam, DOC Communications
+64 4 471 3104 or +64 27 295 3809