Three dead after troopcarrier swept into floodwaters

THREE people are dead after a troopcarrier crowded with 20 people "inside and outside" was swept into floodwaters while crossing the Moyle River about 14km from the remote aboriginal community of Peppimenarti.

Police divers located the bodies of the three deceased, a male and a female aged 61 and another male, 21, inside the submerged vehicle late Saturday afternoon. Seventeen survivors managed to escape the car and the raging floodwaters, clambering to safety along the riverbanks.

Police say the troopcarrier carrying the 20 people was heading towards the nearby township of Wadeye when it attempted to drive through the low level crossing of the Moyle River.

The crossing has no river level markings but police say it was well up when the driver made the ill-fated decision to cross.

Peppimenarti is in the Daly River region of the Northern Territory on Tom Turner Creek, approximately 320km south west of Darwin. It has a population of about 200 and is 120km west of the Daly River crossing along the Port Keats Road.

Police from Peppimenarti and Wadeye were quickly on the scene, but there was nothing they could do in the treacherous conditions for the three trapped in the vehicle. Northern Territory water police and emergency services personnel were rushed to the scene from Darwin and Katherine.

"There were 20 people inside and outside the car when it was swept off the crossing," a police spokesman said.

"Seventeen people managed to get out and make it to the river's banks, but unfortunately three didn't make it out.

"Several of the survivors walked to the nearby community of Pulumpa to raise the alarm and police responded immediately. However, there was nothing we could do because the river was so high and the car at that stage was completely submerged."

Police said they had to wait for the floodwaters to recede to get access to the submerged vehicle.

"We enlisted the help of a mustering helicopter to scour the riverbanks in case the three missing had managed to get out…sadly that wasn't the case," the spokesman said.

- NT News

News Corp Australia

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