Emergency crews spent 800 hours searching rugged bushland in north Queensland for a woman who stumbled out of the scrub after 17 days.
A Queensland woman’s claim she miraculously survived a 17-day ordeal lost in rugged bushland by eating insects and fish has raised eyebrows.
Shannon Leah Fraser stumbled out of the bush on Wednesday about 30 metres from the spot where she was last seen on September 21, at a swimming hole south of Cairns.
Her disappearance sparked a massive search in which emergency crews spent 800 hours scouring the area.
The 30-year-old told family she lost 16kg surviving on insects, creek water and fish.
On Thursday, the mother of two was in a stable condition at Innisfail Hospital where she is being treated for scratches and sunburn.
Inspector Rhys Newton told reporters in Cairns that it was too early to say whether the woman was telling the truth.
“I certainly don’t want to speculate on that at this stage,” he said, adding that police were yet to speak to Ms Fraser in depth.
“This is, I don’t know about miracles, but this certainly is pretty unique that a person has been able to survive in that terrain, in that environment, for 17 days.”
Officers hope to speak to the woman after she is released from hospital in the coming days.
Insp Newton says search teams meticulously searched rugged bushland, creeks and riverbanks at least 2km north and 10km south of the swimming hole.
“I’m convinced there was an extremely high probably of locating that missing person had she been in that area while we were searching,” he said.
“We look for probable areas that people will move to and those areas were searched with a very high probability of finding her.”
He couldn’t say where she may have been.
He says the probability of becoming lost in the area was quite small but possible, adding that it was also possible for someone to survive in the bush for 17 days.
Anyone lost in the area would likely have heard search helicopters and vehicles on a nearby highway, he says.
Insp Newton wouldn’t speculate on whether Ms Fraser would be liable to pay for the cost of the large search effort if she was found to be lying.
Her disappearance is not being treated as suspicious.
Ms Fraser had gone to the swimming hole last month with two men including her partner, who told police he’d left her sitting alone but when he returned five or 10 minutes later, she was gone.