Australian, The, 24.01.2011, p6
TWO more bodies, including that of child discovered in a tree, were retrieved in the Lockyer Valley at the weekend, reinforcing the grisly complexity of the search for the missing.
A local resident found the child’s body by accident on Saturday in a stretch of Murphys Creek that had been searched twice by police, army and SES teams.
The body was found 1km downstream from where missing six-year-old Katie Schefe was washed away on January 10 by the “inland tsunami” that hit Lockyer Valley communities west of Brisbane. The body of her father, Selwyn Schefe, has already been recovered.
The child’s body was suspended about 1m off the ground in a tree that had been twisted over by the wall of water that crashed through Murphys Creek.
Police at the scene said the body was that of a girl. However, police command would not confirm that Katie Schefe was the victim.
DNA testing would be required to positively identify the body, those at the scene said.
Police are also investigating “the discovery of what appears to be human remains” found in the Lockyer Valley town of Lowood yesterday.
“Detectives and forensic specialists are currently investigating on behalf of the Coroner,” police said in a statement. A police source said the official toll of 20 was likely to rise. Concerns are held for nine people still missing.
The girl’s body seems to have been missed because it was covered by a heavy layer of silt, deposited by the flood, which was pared away by rain over the weekend.
Local landholder Ian Hoddinott, who found the body, said he had a feeling on Saturday afternoon that he should check the creek. “As I walked along the creek I noticed what I thought was an animal, but when I looked closer I . . . realised it could be human remains and phoned the police.”
Hope is fading that people still missing will be found alive, 14 days after the deadly flash flood devastating the communities of Murphys Creek, Grantham and Helidon.
Katie Schefe was with her father and her mother, Catherine Schefe, of Murphys Creek, when their quad bike was engulfed.
Mrs Schefe managed to cling to a tree and was rescued, but her daughter and husband were carried away by the raging torrent.
Little hope is held locally for those on the missing list.
Many residents of the valley communities say the next-best outcome is for the remains to be found, so that bereaved families and friends can have the comfort of knowing their fate and of holding a funeral.
Missing people cannot legally be declared dead until six months after their disappearance.
“We are obviously distressed about the discovery, but having a confirmation is part of the tragedy that lives are going to be lost and then bodies found,” one resident said.
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