News & Current Affairs

August 18, 2008

Grand Canyon rescue as dam bursts

Grand Canyon rescue as dam bursts

A stranded rafter is lowered to shore by a National Park Service employee after being hauled across the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon, 17 August 2008

Dozens of campers and rafters have been airlifted out of the area

US rescue crews have airlifted some 170 people to safety from a remote village in the Grand Canyon after a dam burst following days of heavy rain.

Grand Canyon National Park spokeswoman Maureen Oltrogge said water from the Redlands Dam was causing flooding in Supai, at the bottom of Supai canyon.

The remote area, accessible only by foot, on horseback or by air, is home to 400 members of the Havasupai tribe.

Most people have been accounted for but searches will resume later on Monday.


The Redlands dam is on Havasu Creek. The creek feeds the Colorado River, which runs through the Grand Canyon.

After the dam burst, people were flown out of the Supai area and then taken on buses to Peach Springs, about 60 miles (96km) south-west of Supai.

About 16 people in a private boating party were among those who had to be rescued after becoming stranded on a ledge on the Colorado river when their rafts were swept away by flood water.

Some hiking trails and footbridges have been washed away and trees uprooted, although no damage or injuries were reported in Supai itself.

A flash flood warning remained in effect with more rain threatened.

The BBC’s Rajesh Mirchandani in Los Angeles says although more than four million visitors go to the Grand Canyon each year access to the lower areas is well regulated.

Are you in the area? Were you affected by the evacuation of the Grand Canyon? Send us your comments

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