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Search expands for missing girl Krystal Cain, 14, as floodwaters recede in Gympie region

Thursday January 13, 2022 - 03:36 AEDT
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Krystal Cain and her aunt Petrina celebrating Christmas 2021. - ABC

The family of Krystal Cain say they are "holding onto hope" as police continue their search for the missing 14-year-old in the Gympie region. 

Krystal was swept into floodwaters after she and her father, Lenny, became trapped in the early hours of Saturday morning. 

Her uncle Steve Cain said the family are supporting each other as emergency services search for his "fun-loving" niece.

"Krystal had the world at her feet and while we aren't giving up hope just yet we are realistic," Mr Cain said. 

"She's a bright, bubbly young girl who loves all animals and anime drawing."

The Victorian father and daughter were on their way to visit family in Agnes Water on the central Queensland coast but became trapped in the Booubyjan area, where some locals received 900 millimetres of rain. 

Up to 10 metres deep

District disaster coordinator Acting Inspector Paul Algie said the search for Krystal would expand "over the coming days and weeks" as floodwaters subsided and more land became accessible.

He said accessibility issues had plagued emergency services who had been trying to locate Krystal since 3am Saturday when her father called emergency services.

"The car has entered floodwaters, which have swept their vehicle off the road," Acting Inspector Algie said.

"The father subsequently contacted triple-0, stating that he and his daughter were stuck in floodwaters with the car filling up with water."

He said Krystal and her father were separated when they exited their car.

"Emergency services were immediately deployed ? these officers were unable to immediately reach the scene due to heavily impacted roads," he said.

"In some areas, the water was up to 10 metres deep."

Mr Cain was airlifted to Bundaberg Hospital on Saturday but emergency services were unable to begin extensive land and water searches for Krystal until Sunday afternoon when flooding had receded. 

Acting Inspector Algie said emergency services were continuing a 10-kilometre-long search from where Krystal was last seen in the water.

"We have grave fears for the missing child but we'll continue to work through all available air and land strategies to try and locate her," he said. 

"We will change ? as time goes on ? the way we search, but nobody that's attached to this search will be giving up.

"We will just continue, as we can, to access different areas, using different strategies."

'Looks like a war zone'

Acting Inspector Algie stressed that people should leave the search to the authorities. 

"I cannot say strongly enough, this environment is incredibly dangerous and it's only suitable for trained experts. Please do not come out," he said.

"Driving along the Burnett Highway towards Booubyjan looks like a war zone.

"We have experienced searchers already succumbing to heat stress [and] leg and ankle injuries due to the difficult terrain."

Mr Cain thanked emergency services for their tireless work. 

"I would personally like to thank all the rescuers, police, swift rescue, divers, volunteers."


© ABC 2022

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