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Swiss Remember Canyoning Victims

December 13, 1999

WILDERSWIL, Switzerland (AP) _ A stone was unveiled Monday in this central Swiss village in memory of the 21 young victims of a river accident.

The ceremony was attended by Swiss sports minister Adolf Ogi and by the Australian ambassador to Switzerland, Paul O’Sullivan.

``We mourn the loss of those individuals, we remember their courage and enjoyment of life’s adventures, and our thoughts are with their families,″ said O’Sullivan in a speech at the ceremony, which was attended by dozens of residents and rescuers.

The victims _ 18 tourists and three guides _ were on a canyoning trip in the Saxet Brook, near Wilderswil, on July 27 when they were swept away and drowned by a flash flood.

Fourteen victims were Australian, while the others came from New Zealand, Switzerland, Britain and South Africa. They were between the ages of 18 and 31.

A criminal investigation has been started against 11 employees and directors of the company that organized the trip. The judge leading the inquiry, Martin Trapp, said Monday that his inquiry was nearly complete.

Canyoning involves sliding, jumping and rappelling down ravines and into rivers without a raft.

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