The discovery of a second person alive in Central Australia after a group of three went missing a fortnight ago has been described by police as a miracle.
However, Alice Springs woman Claire Hockridge, 46, had still not been found on Tuesday night after the group became stranded when their ute became bogged in sand in a river bed on November 19.
South Australian man Phu Tran, 40, had been walking and searching for help alone the last two days when he was found in a disoriented state by pastoralist Ted Fogarty on his Palmer Valley station on Tuesday morning.
He managed to survive in searing temperatures after finding water in tanks and sheltering in them on Monday.
He was was taken to hospital in Alice Springs to be treated for exposure but was expected to recover quickly.
“He was just so lucky he came in here,” Mr Fogarty told ABC.
“He could have gone anywhere [else] and he wouldn’t have got water for 20 kilometres.”
He said a friend told him on Monday night there were people missing in the area so he headed out to look for them the next morning.
He found tracks and followed footprints before he saw Mr Tran come out of a large cement pipe he had slept in.
“I picked him up and asked where he was going, if he wanted to come with me,” said Mr Fogarty, who fed him at his home.
Tamra McBeath-Riley, 52, of Alice Springs, was rescued on late Sunday afternoon after a station worker noticed tyre tracks and alerted police.
Police Superintendent Pauline Vicary said it was the best outcome they could have so far, but the focus was on finding Ms Hockbridge.
“I don’t know if its unprecedented but certainly if you believe in miracles, I am saying it’s a miracle anyway,” she told reporters in Alice Springs.
“We are really hoping Claire is also okay and that this turns out to be a really positive outcome for everybody, particularly their families because this has been a really awful time for them.”
The discovery of Mr Tran had narrowed the rugged area being looking at by searchers in helicopters, Ms Vicary said.
Mr Tran had said he had left Ms Hockridge behind in a good condition two days ago.
He was found about 12 kilometres from where their ute was bogged.
The group told family and friends they were going for a drive out of Alice Springs.
They stayed together for a harrowing few days, surviving on a cattle watering hole and biscuits and beef noodles before splitting up to get help.
They left a note inside their car to indicate the direction they were heading.
Ms McBeath-Riley was released from hospital and she said she was “worried to death”, because she thought the pair – who had a GPS and compass with them – would have earlier reached the Stuart Highway, about 22 kilometres from where they separated.