Gaskell survived on water, ferns, banana while lost in Mulu

MIRI: River water, ferns, an unripe banana and his sheer will to survive helped Australian tourist Andrew James Gaskell to endure 12 days in the jungle after he went missing in Mulu National Park.

He had gone missing on Oct 20 and was found alive yesterday.

According to a source who had knowledge of the matter, Gaskell’s ordeal started during an attempt to reach the Mulu pinnacles. As he was descending the trail, it was already dark causing him to miss the first base. He subsequently got lost as there were too many trails and he could not figure out which was the correct way.

The source also said the Australian kept moving every day, sleeping under rocks and trying to find his way back. He even fell into a river once but did not suffer any major injuries.

For the first six days he was missing, Gaskell survived only on river water before hunger forced him to eat some ferns. Just a day before he was discovered, he found and ate an unripe banana.

By the time he was found by the Search and Rescue (SAR) team, he had lost a lot of weight and was badly dehydrated.

He is currently being treated at Miri General Hospital. According to the source who did not want to be identified, the Australian is grateful to be alive.

Meanwhile, Assistant Minister for Tourism Datuk Lee Kim Shin congratulated all members of the SAR team from different agencies and the local community for their concerted effort to find the missing Australian tourist in Mulu.

According to him, the mission was to try their utmost best to find the missing person and he reminded all tourists not to wander about in the national park without any trained guides.

“They should always observe the Park rules for their own safety and all tour operators and guides should brief tourists/visitors on the standard operating procedures and safety rules.

“State Tourism has been following the case closely and we do not wish to see any such incident happening again in the future. We wish Gaskell a speedy recovery,” he said in a statement released yesterday.