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Why Empathy Is Critical When Disaster Strikes

When a boatload of tourists was involved in an incident in remote northwest Australia, and more than a dozen were taken to the hospital – some with serious injuries – you might expect the company to express shock and empathy, especially when disaster strikes. But apparently not. According to media reports, the only statement from the tour operator was to advise they were working with authorities to help the injured passengers and liaising with emergency services.

The incident took place late last month at the Horizontal Waterfalls, a tourist attraction where tides surge through narrow chasms at Talbot Bay, 250 miles northeast of Broome. When police said passengers on the tour boat had been thrown into the sea, with crocodiles and box jellyfish in the area, the company issued a second statement denying the police version of events. “The vessel did not capsize and no passengers were in the water,” the statement said. “The boat immediately returned to the pontoon.” We probably won’t know for months the official version of what took place.

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