10 Dec 2011

Tourists killed crossing river in dark

4:19 pm on 10 December 2011

Two tourists are dead after they tried to cross a river near the Franz Josef Glacier in the dark.

Police in Franz Josef say a 20-year-old woman from China and a 23-year-old woman from Malaysia were part of a group of four on a walking track near the glacier on Friday.

The group tried to cross the Waiho River on foot about 9.30pm but the two women were swept off their feet and washed downstream.

The remaining members of the party walked out and raised the alarm.

A rescue helicopter found two bodies in the Waiho River.

Police say it's not yet clear why the tourists tried to cross the glacial river in the dark.

Constable William Parker says the river is known locally to be dangerous as it is often heavily sedimented, meaning it is hard to see the bottom.

He says the women's bodies were found in the river by a rescue helicopter at about 1am on Saturday morning.