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Sunday 3rd August 1997

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The astonishing survival of a ski instructor from Wednesday's Thredbo disaster dominates the news today.

After 65 hours of being trapped in a small concrete cavity 30 year old Stuart Diver was hauled from the rubble. The cavity was just 30 centimetres wide at his feet and 50 centimetres wide at his head. The muffled cries of the trapped man were first heard by one of the large team of men who had been meticulously clearing the rubble of the cottages that collapsed under the landslide. It was at the break of day on Saturday morning at exactly 5.37am that he was first heard - with voice contact being made using seismic listening equipment at 6.30am. It was twelve hours later that his rescuers reached him by moving rubble piece by piece to ensure that they didn't collapse the small cavity in which he was trapped. At 5.16pm last night their efforts were successful and the man was brought out on a stretcher.

Diver had to endure temperatures that reached minus 12 degrees Celsius during the night, but his strength of mind and fit body seemed to be his saving grace. Remarkably, a river of water ran alongside him in the cavity allowing him to drink.

There was no sign of Diver's wife Sally who had been in the bedroom with him before the landslide transformed the area into rubble.

He was taken to the local hospital by ambulance suffering from exhaustion and exposure. He is in a serious but stable condition with workers describing him as lucid and in good spirits.

Three more bodies were found yesterday bringing the total to five dead, with fourteen people still unaccounted for.

The firefighter Steve Hurst who first heard Diver relates the story of how he heard him.

"In the lull (in the noise of men and machines digging) I believed I heard a noise which was uncommon. I called out, 'Rescue team working overhead, can anyone hear me?' Then I lay on my stomach and heard slight murmurings.

"I repeated the call and had a voice come strongly back to me.

From below came the words, "I can hear you."

Diver was just two metres from where the rescuer first heard him, but because of the precarious state of the loose rubble in the landslip above it took about 12 hours to get to him.

The moralistic bleating of Lord Mayor Jim Soorley took a nosedive in credibility yesterday after the Catholic Archbishop of Brisbane, John Bathersby, called for him to leave the priesthood. The mayor is still officially a priest and therefore cannot get married, however he has been accompanied by his partner Mary Philip to all corners of the world... rather immoral in the eyes of the Church for a "Catholic priest" one would think.

Bathersby said that Soorley should undertake laicisation - the process by which a priest relinquishes his vows.

"Once a person is a priest they are always a priest in the eyes of the church.

"Canonically, the church can't say go and get married because he hasn't entered the laicisation process.

"From a secular point of view he could go to a registry office."

Soorley declined to comment yesterday with a spokesperson saying that the mayor of Brisbane would not discuss his private life with the media.

Pauline Hanson jump station.


The Democrats announced a candidate for the new seat of Oxley yesterday. The marriage celebrant, Kate Kunzelmann is a registered nurse, midwife, marriage celebrant and chairs the management committee of the Ipswich Women's Health Service.

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The Australian Wallabies (rugby union) won their Tri-Nation match against the South African Springboks 32-20 last night.

It was an excellent game with teenager Ben Tune being, in my book, the man of the match with two exciting tries scored by cutting through the Springbok defence.

Personal trivia, from the global office:

Yet another gorgeous day in paradise.

Later today I will be going for a canoe down the Brisbane river.

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