Sydney (AFP) – A woman missing for more than two weeks in a rugged Australian rainforest has stumbled out alive after surviving a chase by a crocodile and eating small fish, officials and reports said Thursday.
Shannon Fraser, 30, went missing on September 21 near the remote Josephine Falls in Queensland state after becoming disorientated, wearing just leggings, a shirt and flip flops.
She was spotted by a banana farmer on Wednesday, covered in cuts, welts, bruises and insect bites, the Brisbane Courier-Mail reported.
“She’s lost lots of weight, she’s covered in cuts and scratches, but she’s in good spirits,” her brother Dylan Fraser told the newspaper.
Reports said she lost nearly 17 kilogrammes (37 pounds) during her ordeal.
The Courier-Mail said Fraser told her family that during her feat of survival she came face-to-face with a giant cassowary flightless bird, and got chased by a two-metre (6.5-feet) freshwater crocodile.
Police confirmed the mother-of-three had been found safe and well, and said they were surprised their search failed to find her.
“Can I say the methodologies that are employed in that search operation are tried and proven and extremely sound,” Inspector Rhys Newton told reporters.
“I am convinced that there was an extremely high probability of locating that missing person had she been in that area that we were searching.”
Her brother Dylan told national radio that his sister cried herself to sleep for 16 nights, but the thought of her children made her persevere each day to reach safety.
“She just stayed strong, and made it out,” he said.
Her partner Heath Cassady, who reported her missing and helped in the fruitless search effort, said he was overjoyed that she was back safely.
“Her whole body is scarred and peeling, she’s been through a lot,” he said.
“It is amazing she’s still alive.”