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Page last updated at 04:11 GMT, Wednesday, 16 April 2008 05:11 UK

Students killed in NZ flash flood

Rescue workers remove the bodies of two of the dead students from a helicopter
Rescue workers recovered the bodies of the students swept away by floods

Six high school students and a teacher have been killed by flash flooding in a national park in New Zealand.

The group, from a school in Auckland, were taking part in an outdoor adventure course in the North Island's Tongariro National Park.

Police said that they were swept away by rising river water after a sudden rain storm.

New Zealand's Prime Minister Helen Clark described the deaths as "an unspeakable tragedy".

Rain storm

A group of 12 people - 10 students, an instructor and a teacher - had been canyoning along an isolated gorge on Monday.

School principal Murray Burton reacts to the tragedy

Canyoning involves a combination of hiking, swimming and climbing along a river. The students had been wearing wet suits, life jackets and helmets.

Grant Davidson, chief executive of the Sir Edmund Hillary Outdoor Pursuits Centre, said that a sudden rain storm caused the river level to rise fast.

"The amount of water that came down the canyon is particularly unusual, I've never see it rise in that short a period of time in the 24 years I've been here," he said.

Six 16-year-old students - three boys and three girls - and a male teacher were killed.

Four other students and the instructor managed to escape from the water. One of the students is now being treated in hospital.

Police said that an investigation into the accident was under way.

Prime Minister Helen Clark expressed "profound sympathy and shock" over the accident, describing it as every family and school's "worst nightmare".


SEE ALSO
Country profile: New Zealand
28 Feb 08 |  Country profiles
Timeline: New Zealand
28 Feb 08 |  Country profiles

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