Dear Sir,

In reply to Snr Buils, of the Consell de Medioambiente, suggestion that it is “unfair that the public should pay for the carelessness of a few”, I would like to comment that:

1. I was informed by one of our marvellous rescuers that the “authorities” knew that water was being let out from the reservoir before this incident occurred, and that at 7 am that morning (long before we entered via one of the only two well known entrances) they had sent a helicopter up to warn off the usual weekly groups of mountaineers that descend this canyon. However, I was told that there was too much cloud so this attempt was aborted. This leads me to ask why didn't any of the “authorities” drive there (there is an army base a few kilometres away) and place warning signs or post an officer to inform people that the conditions were different from normal (this canyon can really only flash flood from water being let out of Gorge Blau reservoir and this last occurred in 1996.)

2. This sport is no more dangerous than many others (assuming that freak conditions do not occur); we keep ourselves fit and healthy and are not “careless”. If one looks at other costs that tax payers cover (I am one of them) then road accidents from drinking and driving and smoking related illness, amongst many others; probably takes up a lot of that money. After advice, and after not being warned when the opportunity was present and easy, by the “authorities”; we participated in a healthy sport with no way of telling that this occasion would be so completely different to the many previous descents. I do not think that this is the definition of carelessness.

3. We were prepared for every eventuality, except we lacked equipment for walking up 40 m sheer slippery walls; this is not “carelessness”. There is no phone reception there and even if we had had more sophisticated communications equipment this has very short range in this area, and we still would have needed rescuing.

4. I am sure that people who do not do this type of sport have an impression that canyoning is something very dangerous; well.... it is more dangerous than jogging but the figures show more injuries proportionally from cycling than canyoning and I personally have had more injuries and bad health in the sea being run over by jet skis and swallowing polluted water, than I have had in the mountains.

I would again like to thank the wonderful mountain rescue teams of the Bombers and the Guardia Civil who we will be taking out for a thank you party very shortly.

Dr. David Irons, Palma.


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