A notoriously steep and treacherous bushwalking track where a British father and his son were crushed to death in a landslide passed a safety inspection just days earlier.
The freak incident at Wentworth Falls, west of , on Monday afternoon came after a week of torrential rain in the Blue Mountains.
A traumatised 15-year-old girl watched as her father, 49, and young brother, nine, were fatally struck before her eyes about 1.40pm.
Her mother, 50, and another brother, 14, are were also hit by the falling rocks and are now fighting for life in a critical condition.
The family were permitted to use the advanced Wentworth Pass track, famous for its stunning waterfall views and valley lookouts, despite weeks of wild weather making the area dangerous for hikers.
A notoriously steep and treacherous bushwalking track (Wentworth Pass track, pictured) where a British father and his son were crushed to death in a landslide, passed a safety inspection just days earlier
The freak incident in the Wentworth Falls, west of Sydney , on Monday afternoon came after a week of torrential rain in the Blue Mountains.Pictured: Emergency crews arrive on the horrific scene
NSW National Parks confirmed the 5km loop was inspected days before the landslide as part of a routine assessment program.
‘Unfortunately, it is not possible to predict and eliminate all natural risks such as rockslides, which can occasionally occur around the state,’ a statement read.
The Wentworth Pass track is considered as having a grade four difficulty under NSW National Park and Wildlife Service guidelines, which recommends only experienced bushwalkers use it.
But several areas around Wentworth Falls have been closed since March 11 due to flood damage, with a major landslip recently shutting down Kedumba Valley Road, which is next to the trail.
The tragedy happened near the Wentworth Pass hiking track in the Blue Mountains, about 50km west of Sydney
Wentworth Pass Loop is a 5km bushwalking track through the Blue Mountains National Park.Pictured: An emergency services worker at the scene on Monday
The family were permitted to use the advanced Wentworth Pass track (pictured), famous for its stunning waterfall views and valley lookouts, despite weeks of wild weather making the area dangerous for hikers
National Pass, another trail about 350 metres away from Monday’s deadly incident, has also been closed for the past few weeks due to an ‘ongoing rockfall risk’.
A man who was at the popular tourist spot about the same time as the Brits on Monday told Daily Mail Australia he cautiously cut his hike short because the ground was muddy and stairways were wet and he’d recently suffered a leg injury on a trek.
In an post an hour after the tragedy, trail running organiser Ultra-Trail Australia announced the Wentworth Falls track was due to be upgraded later this week to make sure it was safe in time for their upcoming event.
‘We’ve been working closely with [National Parks and Council teams] to ensure that our courses will be good to go come 12-15 May, and we’re confident that they will be ready in five weeks time,’ the group wrote on their Facebook page about 2.30pm.
‘Parks has asked us to let you all know about a few upcoming track closures this week on Thursday 7th and Friday 8th of April (weather dependent), which include sections of course near Fairmont Resort and Wentworth Falls.’
However, hours after the deaths, NSW National Park and Wildlife Service announced the section would be closed indefinitely.
‘The Wentworth Falls and Valley of the Waters precincts are closed following a rockfall incident,’ the department wrote on their website.
‘Please avoid this area until further notice.’
Paramedics were winched from a rescue helicopter down the cliff face as they searched for anyone who had been taken by moving debris
A rescue operation (pictured) was launched to lift the critical patients out of the area for further medical treatment
Hiking fanatics who visited the same trail in recent days have expressed their shock and offered condolences to the British family online.
‘This is the trail we completed two days earlier and were unaware of any dangers at the time,’ they wrote on Facebook.
‘Our thoughts are with the families of these walkers’.
The family were holidaying in Australia from the UK, NSW Police have confirmed, and the British Consulate is now assisting.
Authorities are still working to determine whether the landslide fell on the group while they were walking along a bush track, or home inspector joe hastings if they were trekking along the cliff face that fell.
‘Unfortunately there’s been a landslip while they were bushwalking and a man and a boy have passed away,’ NSW Police Detective Acting Superintendent John Nelson said.
‘In terms of the site, it’s extremely dangerous and unstable,’
‘Two other patients are critical, with head and abdominal injuries, requiring sedation before extraction.’
Several areas around Wentworth Falls (pictured: A hiker on the trail on Monday) had been closed since March 11 due to flood damage, with a major landslip recently shutting Kedumba Valley Road
In an eerie post an hour after the tragedy, trail running organiser Ultra-Trail Australia announced the Wentworth Falls track was due to be upgraded later this week to make sure it was safe in time for their upcoming event
The rescue operation also involved local police, Police Rescue, Fire and Rescue NSW, National Parks & Wildlife Services, Blue Mountains detectives, and PolAir and rescue helicopters
The teen who narrowly escaped being swept away is being hailed a hero after she raised the alarm in a frantic call to Triple-0 around 1.30pm.
It’s understood the distraught girl told the operator: ‘I don’t know where we are’.
She walked from the scene with the help of emergency crews, which involved trekking for an hour-and-a-half along the hiking track.
Police said the girl was uninjured but ‘extremely distressed’ and was later treated by paramedics for shock before being taken to hospital.
Police crews returned to the scene early on Tuesday morning to recover the bodies of the man and boy.
The retrieval of the bodies was a planned and delicate operation due to the nature of the terrain at the site.
It’s understood several bushwalkers on the track assisted rescue workers after coming across the harrowing scenes.