Tramper's body found in river
ALEX BACK, EMMA PARTRIDGE, NEIL RATLEY AND COLETTE DEVLIN
The body of a woman swept away by icy currents in Fiordland has been found.
Her remains were found in Clinton River about 1.8km south of the last place she was seen on Monday as she attempted to cross a swollen stream, police said.
She was identified as Yessica Asmin, Senior Sergeant Cynthia Fairley said.
Indonesian consulate officials in Sydney said she was a 22-year-old international student at the University of New South Wales.
Asmin, of Jakarta, had been walking the isolated Milford Track with her Sydney boyfriend, Sean Mcnabb.
A message on his Facebook page said: "Thank you all for your love and support. Yessica was fond today deceased. Today I lost a part of me, I'm very lost at this time."
Police said they were supporting her family as they have arrived in New Zealand "and would appreciate some privacy at this tragic time."
Search and rescue crews were forced to halt their operations today because of deteriorating weather, but were able to resume an aerial search this afternoon. Her body was found at 4.40pm.
Overnight, the Clinton River swelled to nine times its average size because of heavy rainfall, before reducing to a level of 1.8 metres in the morning.
Rescue crews consider 0.25 metres as a safe level to conduct search activities.
WATCHED IN HORROR
A German backpacker recounted the terrifying moment he saw the woman swept away, as her boyfriend watched on.
Twenty-year-old Sebastian Keilholz, from Bamberg, had met Asmin, who he called Jessica, and Mcnabb on Monday morning, when they started the tramp together.
Five hours into the tramp they reached Pompolona Creek. It was pouring rain and the water was bloated and moving fast and strong.
It was late into the afternoon at this point and they couldn't see the normal stepping-stones used to cross over. They decided not to turn back because it would have meant hiking for hours in the dark.
Mcnabb and Keilholz crossed first. Then Mcnabb, 26, went back to Asmin to help her with her backpack.
When Mcnabb and Asmin tried to cross again they had only reached the middle of the stream when the river overpowered him and he fell into the water.
The water swept him three metres before he managed to grip a protruding rock and reach out to Keilholz, who pulled him to safety. Asmin was still standing in the middle of the raging currents.
"We told her to stay there, where she was, but she was so in panic, that she also fell into the stream," Keilholz said.
"Sean was saved so I ran as fast as I could to help [her]. I fell two times, but I stood up and ran.
"The rocks were so slippery, that I fell again, two times on my shoulder and then on my mouth. My teeth were broken, blood came out of my mouth and Jessica was gone."
Keilholz and Mcnabb activated the emergency beacon they had carried with them but because of the heavy rain no helicopter could fly in. It was getting darker and to get to the nearest shelter at Mintaro Hutt, the trampers still needed to cross another stream.
Leaving Mcnabb with the bags, Keilholz ran through the next stream and on to Mintaro Hutt, arriving an hour later.
There was a group of about 10 other trampers in the hut. Once Keilholz told them what had happened, some ran back down to the creek to rescue Mcnabb who was said to be suffering from shock.
Keilholz said that he wished they had been warned about the dangerous creek.
"I'm angry that they didn't tell us that there are no bridges and I'm angry that I couldn't help her."
"I would never go (on) such a dangerous track if I knew that there are no bridges. I hope they will find Jessica in the next days."
-Stuff with Sydney Morning Herald