British Tourist Die in Yosemite National Park Accident

Yosemite National Park

A British tourist was killed and his partner was injured in a rockfall on Wednesday in Yosemite National Park. Both climbers were hiking at the bottom of El Capitan when a huge chunk of granite gave way, a park official confirmed on Thursday.

When paramedics arrived, they found the man dead and the woman was suffering from serious injuries, said Park Ranger Scott Gediman.

The granite slab is believe to have fallen near the East butress of El Capitan. Park officials say the slab measured 130 ft. tall and 65 ft. wide. Climbers were able to capture the giant plume of granite dust shortly after the rock fall. Photos of the billows of dust were posted on social media.

Climber Justin Henderson said he and his partner were just around the corner from the climbers when the rocks came tumbling down. "We were standing there and all of a sudden, we saw this huge plume of smoke explode from beneath it. Then we started getting pelted by it," said Henderson.

Canadian climber Peter Zabrok said that a white piece of granite rock the size of an apartment building suddenly gave way without warning. Once it cratered, it mushroomed out in every direction. Gediman said the same area have seven rock falls over a four hour period on Wednesday. The area was searched and no other victims were found. Although there was no immediate estimation regarding the rock's weight, Gediman said he believes it may have weighed around 1,300 tons.

The park usually has about 80 rock falls every year, but most result in no injuries or fatalities. Since the area began keeping record in 1857, there have been only 16 fatalities and 100 injuries, said Gediman. The last recorded fatality occurred in 1999.

Despite the recent rock falls, the park remains open. The victims of the rock fall have yet to be identified. The National Park Service and U.S. Consulate is working notify next of kin.

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