Ambulances and medical staff have met at least a dozen tourists believed to have been injured in a boating accident at the famous Horizontal Falls as they arrived at Broome Airport.
Up to 15 people, some covered in bandages, were seen disembarking a Horizontal Falls Seaplane Adventures aircraft at about 12pm.
It is understood they will be taken to Broome Health Campus for treatment.
The Royal Flying Doctor Service has been coordinating the evacuation, while the well-known tourism operator’s seaplane is flying injured tourists out of the area to safety.
Up to 28 people – 26 tourists and two crew members – are feared to have been injured in the serious boating incident at the iconic tourist spot, about 100km north of Derby.
Emergency services responded to reports of a vessel capsizing or running ashore about 8.30am Friday.
It is believed the tourist boat was exploring the popular attraction in Talbot Bay, about 250km east of Broome when the incident took place.
A WA Country Health Service spokeswoman told The West Australian the organisation was not yet aware of the extent of people’s injuries, but there are fears some are seriously hurt.
“Kimberley Hospitals are on stand-by and Broome Health Campus has activated an emergency alert in anticipation of patient arrivals – the first of which are expected within the hour,” she said.
As Broome Health Campus prepares for an influx of patients, it’s expected those most seriously injured will be flown to Jandakot Airport in Perth, from where they will be taken to Royal Perth Hospital.
An initial statement from WA Police confirmed emergency services were responding to the incident, and that “several people onboard are injured”.
WorkSafe has been notified of the incident, but has yet to send investigators given the remoteness of the location.
Horizontal Falls, described as an ocean phenomenon, attracts tourists from all over the world, with its swift tidal currents squeezing between two narrow gorges in what Sir David Attenborough once labelled “one of the greatest natural wonders of the world”.
The iconic falls, known for their fast-moving tides, play host to frequent jet boat tours.
More to come.