clive to the rescue with own chopper

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    Mining magnate Clive Palmer's chopper rescues 60 peoplel stricken by Queensland floods

    From: AAP January 13, 2011 11:06PM
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    QUEENSLAND'S richest man Clive Palmer says he used his private helicopter to save 60 stranded people in the flood-ravaged Lockyer Valley after emergency crews failed to show.

    Four employees at his stud farm at Lowood huddled on a rooftop for at least 12 hours, watching horses drown below them, before Mr Palmer was forced to send in his own reinforcements.

    "They thought they were going to die," he told AAP today.

    "They asked the SES to get there, but they didn't so we got our own chopper there at 4.30am and got them off the roof."

    Mr Palmer said the wall of water that hit the valley on Monday took everyone by surprise, and prompted panic at his Cold Mountain Stud, where the four employees struggled to round up his valuable horses.

    He lost 23 horses out of 40, at a cost of at least half a million dollars, while another of his homes in Brisbane was also inundated with water.

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    But the relief of having helped save people's lives has taken the sting out of the damage.

    After rescuing his four workers, the chopper then went on to save another group stranded at a local school, which included four young children.

    "I got the radio message to authorise those pick-ups as well ... then we donated our chopper and pilots after that and I think they saved another 40 that day."

    The mining magnate has been overwhelmed by the devastation Queensland has experienced this week but, unlike many, the Liberal Party backer was critical of the emergency response.

    "It's disappointing that the SES didn't have choppers available, although they were probably tied up Toowoomba way," he said.

    "I don't like to be negative at times like this, everyone's doing their best, but the government should provide more choppers in the budget, on a more centralised basis."

    He hopes that questions will be asked about why or how people died.

    "I'd like to know, I hope the coroner will investigate how they died and whether or not they could have been saved if we'd had a better response," Mr Palmer said.

    "At some stage when this is all said and done, people have got to look at those issues."

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