Volunteers praised in tragic Blackall search and rescue

Three-day search for missing Blackall woman ends in tragedy

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Searchers on horseback, on foot, on motorbikes and in helicopters taking part in the extensive three-day search.

Searchers on horseback, on foot, on motorbikes and in helicopters taking part in the extensive three-day search.

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The determination of volunteers has been praised as the search for a missing Blackall woman ended tragically on Saturday evening.

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The determination of volunteers has been praised as the search for a missing Blackall woman ended tragically on Saturday evening.

Muriel (Ann) MacDonald, 78, who suffered from a medical condition, was last seen by her family at 2pm on Wednesday on the family's 3200ha property south of Blackall, sparking a large-scale search and rescue effort that involved well over 100 people from Blackall, Tambo, Longreach, Winton, Barcaldine and Charleville over three days.

The search ended late on Saturday afternoon when Mrs MacDonald was located deceased around 10km south of the homestead along a creek system.

Longreach Police inspector Julia Cook said she had been found in an area that searches on foot, motorbike, horseback and from the air by helicopter were concentrating on, indicating the challenges that confronted search and rescue operations.

"Unfortunately after three long hot days of over 100 volunteers out slogging day after day, the outcome was that yes, we've located Ann but she was deceased, which is a really unfortunate outcome," Ms Cook said.

"But we wouldn't have even found her without all the support and help from all the volunteers that have been going three days straight.

"The family is so proud of their community. All we can say is thank you for the efforts of everybody."

Some of the army of searchers heading out from the homestead headquarters soon after sunup for another day of searching.

Some of the army of searchers heading out from the homestead headquarters soon after sunup for another day of searching.

Ground temperatures were measured at 60 degrees during the search, and storm rain fell the night Mrs MacDonald disappeared and again on the second morning of the search.

Police from Blackall, Tambo, Charleville, Barcaldine and Longreach joined local government and SES personnel and over 100 concerned local residents in a search that also enlisted the aid of a plane with infrared technology that could detect heat signatures, in an attempt to determine Mrs MacDonald's whereabouts.

Ms Cook said searches that kept going for a number of days were especially difficult because people just wanted to find the person.

"It did take three full days to find her. We're just glad that we found her because the family needed to find their mother."

Mrs MacDonald is survived by her children Julieanne, Mary-Anne, Angus and Hamish. She was predeceased by her husband Bill.

Volunteers study the map as they determine the best way to spread out and search the terrain.

Volunteers study the map as they determine the best way to spread out and search the terrain.

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