Man lucky to be alive after being trapped in sinkhole

FOR almost two hours a 29-year-old man was buried in sand up to his chin, unable to move and only able to scream for help.

His fate seemed grim until passers-by heard his faint calls for help and stumbled across the man in the sand dunes at a Urangan Beach about 11am Thursday.

He would be there for nearly four more hours as emergency services desperately worked to free him in a delicate operation with Fraser Coast Regional Council workers.

A Queensland Police Service spokesman told the Chronicle the man had been looking for animals in the sand dunes between the Urangan Pier and Dayman Park when the ground suddenly collapsed.

Emergency personnel used shovels and buckets to remove the sand from around his chest while some used their bare hands to avoid injuring the man.

About 1.15pm, council workers attended the scene and set up a 30m exclusion zone before bringing in two excavators.

 

Torquay Fire station officer and commander Scott Castree said the excavator was needed to remove bulk sand and ensure there was adequate room to put a rescue strop around the man.

"We had to do a delicate balance of trying to remove the casualty but also expect possible injuries to him and make every effort to minimise further damage to the casualty," he said.

"We couldn't rush it and if we had done, it could have ended differently."

It's not the first time a sinkhole has sucked an unsuspecting person inside, with a tourist couple experiencing a similar ordeal in April 2017.

The married couple were walking on Torquay Beach around 6.45pm when they began to rapidly sink into the sand up to their necks.

Luckily, they were able to free themselves.

Mr Castree said despite the situation he was in, the man remained in high spirits throughout the ordeal.

"Earlier on there were times he seemed to be fading away but we were able to keep chatting to him and reassure him and keep him updated," he said.

About 10 Council crews and 20 emergency personnel attended the scene while dozens of onlookers watched the situation unfold.

 

In the distance, yells of pain and discomfort could be heard coming from the man.

At 2.45pm, emergency workers were seen carrying the man out of the hole on a stretcher before taking him to a waiting ambulance.

Mr Castree said it was important for beach goers to be vigilant and be aware of where they were walking.

"This is incredible that he was found in a timely manner," Mr Castree said.

"If no one heard his cries for help, it would have definitely been a different outcome."

A Queensland Ambulance spokeswoman said the man had no obvious injuries but was taken to Hervey Bay Hospital as a precautionary measure.

Council workers have since filled the hole.



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