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Man explained what it felt like being buried alive for 65 hours after 8,500 tonne avalanche

Man explained what it felt like being buried alive for 65 hours after 8,500 tonne avalanche

Stuart Diver was the sole survivor of the Thredbo Landslide.

An Australian man has described how it felt to be buried for three days under mud, rocks and debris after becoming the sole survivor of the Thredbo Landslide.

Stuart Diver, a skiing instructor, was among 19 people who were buried in the avalanche that tumbled towards the ski resort of Thredbo, in New South Wales, Australia in July 1997.

The debris destroyed both Carinya Ski Lodge and Bimbadeen Lodge and trapped everyone inside, with rescue efforts afterwards revealing that multiple people had died in the tragic events.

Responders, who included 100 professionals and volunteers from organisations such as the Australian Red Cross and the Volunteer Rescue Association of NSW, had searched for more than two days in a bid to find survivors, but when they lowered a piece of sound equipment down into one of the holes, they detected movement.

A rescue worker asked whether anyone could hear them, and Diver responded: “I can hear you!”

The then-27-year-old had been lying beneath the debris for more than 50 hours, so workers lowered pipes and tubes down the hole to provide him with liquids and warmer air while their rescue mission restarted.

Diver's wife, Sally, was among those who died in the avalanche, and she was discovered pinned next to him in the wreckage. The process of rescuing Diver took 11 hours, and the instructor held his wife's hand until he was saved.

Hundreds of experts and volunteers came to assist in the rescue mission.
60 Minutes Australia

Reflecting on the moment the avalanche hit, Diver told 60 Minutes Australia: "It was terrifying, because you've got no idea what's going on. There was about 8,500 tonnes that came down on top of all of us... I had a space maybe two to three inches above my mouth and that was it."

Diver recalled how his wife started screaming as water began to pour down on top of them, and he described trying to stop the water going into her mouth, but he wasn't able to.

"It's one of those things, you know... when I look back on it now, in the most stressful point in my life sure I tried to keep myself alive, because that's what humans do, but I also tried to keep the person I loved most in the world alive," he said.

"Once Sally was dead I had to focus on me and my survival."

As he remained trapped under the rubble, Diver admitted there were a couple of times he considered whether he could take his own life, but that he 'didn't have the means to do it'.

Diver was buried for more than 50 hours before rescuers heard him.
60 Minutes Australia

The trapped man could hear the rescuers at work above him and tried yelling to get their attention, but it wasn't until he'd been trapped for 54 hours that he knew he'd been heard.

"That was an amazing feeling," he recalled, though he admitted he didn't realise how long the rescue would take. He credited his rescuer, Paul, with stopping him from going 'mad', while Paul described Diver as 'superman'.

After being freed from the rubble, Diver was taken to hospital and treated for frostbite. With people across the country waiting to hear the fate of the trapped man, he said the cheer he heard when he was rescued is something he will remember 'forever'.

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Featured Image Credit: 60 Minutes Australia/YouTube/Shutterstock

Topics: World News, Australia