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Last Updated: Monday, 15 October 2007, 06:57 GMT 07:57 UK
Tourists die in Thai cave floods
Survivor Helena Carroll
Helena Carroll survived by clinging onto a ledge
Eight tourists, including one Briton, have died after being swept away by flash floods in Thailand while exploring a cave.

The group were in Khao Sok national park when the cave flooded.

The dead Briton was named as John Cullen, 24. A 10-year-old German boy, four Swiss nationals and two Thai guides also died.

Mr Cullen's girlfriend, Helena Carroll of Solihull, survived by clinging on to a ledge in the cave's roof.

The next thing there is death all around me
Survivor Helena Carroll

Ms Carroll, who is 21, said: "One minute I was in what I thought was the most beautiful place in the world. The next thing there is death all around me."

Speaking on Thai TV station TITV, she said she was shouting: "'Help me! Help me' all night. Then I saw a light."

According to the Bangkok Post newspaper the seven western tourists and their guides had travelled by boat from Ratchapraphra dam to the cave on Saturday.

The area inside the cave was flooded following a heavy downpour, which began about an hour before the party began their journey, it said.

'Trapped'

The Khao Sok national park in Ban Ta Khun district, which lies 650km (400 miles) south of Bangkok.

According to police Lieutenant Colonel Pichan Kanayasiri the heavy rainfall caused flash floods, which sent water surging into the cave, which was near a waterfall.

Location of Khao Sok national park

"The tourists were inside the cave and didn't know what was happening outside. They were trapped inside the cave," Lt Col Pichan told news agency AFP.

District official Sitichai Thaicharoen said Ms Carroll was rescued on Sunday after being found clinging to the cave's roof.

She is now being treated in hospital.

"She was able to climb up to the roof of the cave, that is why she survived," Mr Thaicharoen told AFP.

'Warning'

A senior Thai government official is due to travel to the Surat Thani province on Sunday to begin an investigation into the incident, the Bangkok Post reported.

Chalermsak Wanichsombat, director-general of National Park, Wildlife and Plant Conservation Department told the paper that officials at the park had warned tourists not to travel because of heavy downpours in the area.

A Belgian tourist was killed by a flash flood in the same cave several years ago.

The province's governor, Winai Phopradit, told the Associated Press news agency he had ordered the national park to close during the current rainy season.

"We have signs both in English and Thai warning tourists not to go into the cave during heavy rains," he said.

VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
Survivor Helena Carroll describes waiting to be rescued





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