Image: Flood survivor, Helena Christina Carroll
Helena Christina Carroll, a British national who survived a flash flood in a cave in the Khao Sok national park in Surathani province of southern Thailand on Oct. 14, receives medical treatment. Her boyfriend perished with seven others in the weekend tragedy.
updated 10/15/2007 1:03:56 PM ET 2007-10-15T17:03:56

A British woman who survived a flash flood in a Thailand cave said her boyfriend tried to use the current as a means to escape, only to perish along with seven others in the weekend tragedy, media outlets reported Monday.

Helena Carroll, 24, was discovered alive hours after the incident, clinging to a part of the cave. Among the dead was a 10-year-old German boy whose mother had decided not to take the cave tour but let her son go without her, said police Lt. Col. Pichan Kanayasiri. Other victims were a Swiss couple and their two teen daughters, as well as two Thai guides, police said.

The group was exploring the Khao Sok national park in the southern province of Surat Thani on Saturday. The park is filled with lush rain forest, limestone cliffs as well as numerous caves.

As the group was about halfway through a cave, Carroll said she heard a “sudden roar.”

“I looked behind and saw this rush of water coming toward us,” Carroll told The Nation newspaper, one of several Thai media outlets that published accounts.

Heavy rains had started falling outside the cave, which was near a waterfall, and flash floods almost instantly consumed it.

“John and I started climbing,” Carroll said, referring to her boyfriend, identified by police as John Cullen, also of Britain.

As they frantically scaled the cave’s wall, she watched in horror as other members of the group were pulled into the surging water, and with them all the flashlights that had lighted their way.

“We were all alone in the dark. We could not see anything,” Carroll said.

Carroll’s boyfriend didn’t think they could survive clinging onto the cave’s walls.

“He decided that he would get into the current and flow with it. He thought the current would take him out, then he could bring help to rescue me,” she told The Nation.

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Slideshow: Thai treasure She didn’t see him again until after rescuers pulled her from the cave on Sunday.

“My boyfriend John. Is he OK? Is he OK?” she asked as a camera crew filmed the rescue from Thai television station Channel 9.

“They took me to a place which was being used as a mortuary. I saw John’s body in a box next to one of the beautiful little Swiss girls,” she told The Nation.

It remains unclear why the group was in the park to begin with.

The province’s governor, Winai Phopradit, said Sunday he had ordered the park to close during the current rainy season. “We have signs both in English and Thai warning tourists not to go into the cave during heavy rains,” he said.

A Belgian tourist was killed by a flash flood in the same cave several years ago.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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