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Dunedin police are considering whether to lay charges after four tourists entered a stormwater drain outside Toitu Otago Settlers Museum last night to explore some of Dunedin's less familiar and subterranean sites.
Acting Senior Sergeant Tania Baron said they appeared to have a fascination with underground pipes and had explored many stormwater systems in other countries.
Police noticed three people standing around an opened drain while on patrol, and stopped about 10.15pm to investigate.
The trio initially claimed they had lost a set of car keys down a nearby grate, and had lifted a manhole in a bid to retrieve them, Acting Snr Sgt Baron said.
However, it emerged a fourth tourist, a female in her 20s, was missing underground and was unable to be contacted for about 15 minutes.
Police were concerned she might have been injured or overcome by toxic fumes, and were about to launch a search and rescue party, when she returned to the surface, Acting Snr Sgt Baron said.
''It's a foolish thing to do.
''We were very concerned the woman may have been injured or been overcome by a build-up of gases in the drains,'' Acting Snr Sgt Baron said.
''One would suggest they knew they shouldn't be doing it because they did it at night when no-one was around.
''We are now exploring the possibility of laying charges,'' she said.