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Perth family bogged in Simpson Desert could be trapped for weeks, but parents relieved to hear they are safe

Sunday November 14, 2021 - 14:31 AEDT

The parents of a Perth man stranded with his wife and children in South Australia's remote outback have spoken of their fear turning to relief after finding out their family is safe.

Perth couple Ori and Lindsey Zavros, and their two young children, became stuck in the Simpson Desert when their customised campervan was bogged after heavy rain.

They activated an emergency EPIRB device on Friday morning, triggering a rescue response.

The family is safe and well, police said on Saturday, but is facing a potentially lengthy wait to become unstuck because the local track and the surrounding country remain partially submerged by floodwaters.

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) is working with police on a plan to rescue them and has dropped essential supplies including water and a satellite phone.

A second supply drop is being conducted on Sunday, AMSA said.

"Coordination of the rescue is with SA Police who are maintaining ongoing contact with the stranded vehicle, and are assessing rescue options for a ground response," a spokeswoman said.

"Due to the road conditions and remote area this is proving difficult and SA Police have now requested a supply drop to the family.

"The AMSA Response Centre has contacted the family to confirm food supplies that are needed."

Ori's mother Theo described her initial fear, saying it was "hectic" and "horrible not knowing really what was wrong".

"It was awful, it was absolutely awful. My mind was going through illness, accident," she told Channel Nine.

But after hearing her son's voice say, "please don't worry, we're all okay," she was reassured.

"Really we had confidence he was very well equipped," she said.

"To hear that they were just bogged ... we were a little bit happier, that's for sure."

Ori's father Lagis said it was "just the unknown" that was the initial cause of anxiety.

"We didn't know what state they were going to find things in," he told Channel Seven.

"The ground looked solid, and you go over it and all of a sudden it's like quicksand."

Mt Dare Hotel owner Graham Scott, who is about 80 kilometres from the family's location near Alka Seltzer Bore but is cut-off from them by floodwaters, said it would take at least one week ? and potentially several more ? for the road to become passable.

"All the roads around here are partially under water. There are vast flat areas that have still got water laying on them, and where the water has recently been on the roads ? it'd be a quagmire if you tried to get through," he said.

"That particular area where they are is just a renowned area for bogging. It's kilometres of just mudflats. When it's dry it's fine but when it's wet it just becomes impossible to navigate.

"There's only one track out there ? [and] it'd be at least a week before you'd be able to get onto roads with any confidence.

"They'll be fine, as long as they've got food and water ? I gather they're not on a fixed time schedule so my advice is to find as many good board games as you can and just sit there and wait until it dries out."

Mr Scott said there was an airstrip within about "a kilometre and a half" of the family "that is not quite an all-weather strip", but he was unsure whether authorities would opt for an aerial rescue, or whether the family would want to leave the campervan behind.

"If they do need to be pulled out, they'll need to be pulled out by some sort of vehicle and we've got a big four-wheel drive ex-Army truck we use for extractions out of the desert," he said.

"[Authorities] may call us, I don't know."


© ABC 2021

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