A British kayaker is missing and two Irish men are dead after a group of five lost control in flash floods in the Ecuadorian jungle.
Adam Vaughan, 22, of Newbury, Berkshire, was part of an expedition that got in to difficulty on the Abanico river in the country’s south east.
Two men, Irish kayakers David Higgins, 26, and Alexander MacGourty, 19, have been confirmed by the Ecuadorian authorities to have died while local guide Joaquin Meneses, 18, and American Jeremiath Stewart both survived.
Mr Meneses later told a press conference that ‘being there was crazy’ with the river so powerful that ‘getting out of the kayak was practically facing death’.
British kayaker Adam Vaughan (pictured) is missing and two Irish men are feared dead after a group of five lost control in flash floods in the Ecuadorian jungle
Adam Vaughan (pictured), 22, of Newbury, Berkshire, was part of an expedition that got in to difficulty on the Abanico river in the country’s south east
‘The flow of that river was so strong that getting out of the kayak was practically facing death,’ he said, according to El Comercio. ‘In the canyons there were rapids with waves and hollows of meters of height. Being there was crazy.’
Graduate Mr Vaughan, who spent his third year studying in Columbia, was the vice president of Cardiff University kayak club.
In a Facebook statement, the group described Mr Vaughan as a ‘fantastic teacher, inspiration and vice president’.
His parents Christopher and Gillian were being assisted by the Foreign Office as they waited for any updates.
Mr Vaughan studied Spanish at Cardiff University and began kayaking when he was just 11.
Both Mr Meneses and Mr Higgins were both initially reported as missing but while the Ecuadorian guide was found alive late on Monday, telling rescuers he had survived by eating insects and naranjillo (edible plants), local newspaper El Universo reported that the body of Mr Higgins had been found on Monday night.
Franklin Puente, the governor of Morona Santiago province, confirmed that Mr Vaughan was the missing man.
Mr Meneses said that all of the kayakers were very experienced but that the high water levels had made the river very powerful.
Graduate Mr Vaughan, who spent his third year studying in Columbia, was the vice president of Cardiff University kayak club
Mr Vaughan studied Spanish at Cardiff University and began kayaking when he was just 11
More than 100 rescuers have been reported to be involved in the search for survivors.
The rescue, which is being co-ordinated by a joint committee with the support of an Army helicopter, involves firefighters, Red Cross, police, armed forces, park rangers and the local Kayak Club.
Dominique Kennedy, the honorary Irish consul based in Ecuador, told The Irish Independent that the return of Mr Meneces meant there could be still be some hope in the search for the others.
‘He was found along the river bank. He had been walking for about 40 hours,’ she said.
Sligo Kayak Club, where Mr McGourty was a trainee instructor, said he ‘died while fulfilling his dreams’.
In a statement posted on Facebook the club said they believed the whole team had been caught up in the flood.
‘It is with profound sadness that we announce the passing of club member and trainee instructor Alex McGourty. Alex tragically died while fulfilling his dreams, kayaking in Ecuador,’ it said.
‘The club would like to extend our deepest and heartfelt sympathies to Alex’s parents Frankie and Eilish, his family and his friends.’
In a self-written post on the British Universities Kayaking Expedition, Mr Vaughan wrote that he studied Spanish at Cardiff University and began kayaking when he was 11.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office said: ‘We are assisting the family of a British man who has been reported missing in Ecuador, and are in contact with the Ecuadorian authorities.’