A fishing trawler which capsized and then sank off Queensland’s coast has been found.
A police dive squad joined the search for the missing fishing vessel and the six fishermen on board after it overturned in Bustard Bay near Middle Island on Monday night.
The boat was detected by sonar two to three nautical miles off Round Hill Headland, Queensland Police said in a statement.
The rescue mission had on Friday entered a ‘recovery phase’ after the families of the missing fishermen were told the ‘window of survivability’ had closed.
Water police will remain at the scene overnight and a full recovery operation will commence on Saturday morning.
The families of Mr Tonks (top right), Ben Leahy (bottom centre), Adam Hoffman (top left), Adam Bidner (bottom right), Zach Feeney (top centre) and Chris Sammut (bottom left), were told to expect the worst
Sammy McDornan (pictured), the wife of the sole confirmed survivor of a fishing tragedy which is believed to have claimed the lives of six men, has made an emotional plea to find her husband’s missing friends
Previously the wife of the sole confirmed survivor of the fishing tragedy made an emotional plea to find her husband’s missing friends.
Hopes of finding the men alive have faded, five days after the vessel capsized off the Queensland town of Seventeen Seventy.
The families of Ben Leahy, 45, Adam Hoffman, 30, Eli Tonks, 39, Adam Bidner, 33, Zach Feeney, 28, and Chris Sammut, 34, were told to expect the worst if they were not found by nightfall on Wednesday.
Mr McDoran (pictured) was above deck when the boat capsized about 7.30pm on Monday night, and held on to the hull of the boat until it sunk about midnight. He is so far the only survivor of the tragedy
Pictured: Zach Feeney, 28, who was believed to be trapped below deck on the trawler Dianne
Ruben McDornan was saved by a passing yacht around 12 hours after the trawler rolled on Monday night.
His wife Sammy revealed her husband was ‘very sad and sore, but OK’ and said she hadn’t given up hope of a miracle.
‘We’re really thankful to the people that rescued Ruben and to all the people out searching for the boys and just for everyone’s support,’ a tearful Ms McDornan said.
‘But unfortunately we don’t really have any other information. We’re so grateful that he’s alive.
‘But our thoughts are with the boys missing at the moment because they’re all like family. So we just need everybody to keep positive for them.’
Six fishermen (including crewman Eli Tonks, pictured with his fiance) are believed to be trapped inside their trawler, which sunk off the coast of Queensland on Monday night
Skipper Ben Leahy (pictured) is referred to as an experienced fisherman and diver by friends, but he has not been seen since the trawler began to sink about 7.30pm on Monday night
‘The family are very upset and shocked about what has happened,’ Inspector Darren Somerville said on Wednesday.
Wetsuits, diving equipment and personal items have been found washed ashore as authorities scour the debris for a sign of survival.
Meanwhile, it has been revealed a door that opens outwards may have sealed the fate of the missing fishermen.
Members of the Cairns fishing community said if the men hadn’t managed to open the door to the boat before the trawler sank, it would be almost impossible to make it out.
‘The problem with these boats is the door doesn’t open in, they open out,’ one told The Australian.
‘If you put a car in the water and try to open the door, you can’t. You need to smash a window, equalise it and that’s the only way you can open the door.’
Eli Tonks (pictured) became engaged last year. The 39-year-old is now missing at sea
Search and Rescue coordinator Jeff Barnett said on Wednesday afternoon time was running out to find the young fishermen alive.
He said as light faded on Wednesday, the operation would soon transition from a search and rescue to a search and recovery.
‘The best case scenario is we find six people in a life raft. That’s what we’re aiming for at the moment. But it’s not looking real promising,’ he said.
‘On advice from our medical team, they tell us towards the end of the afternoon the chances of survival unsupported is negligible.’
Chris Sammut, 34, was also on board when the trawler sank, and has not yet been found
All six men (including Adam Hoffman, pictured) were believed to be below deck on Monday night when their vessel rolled off the town of 1770
Ferocious winds and high seas have so far hampered the desperate search for the six men.
Police called in sonar detectors to help locate the vessel, and specialist divers are believed to be en route from NSW, but as the hours pass, the families of the men are barely holding on.
Many of them have taken to Facebook to alert friends and loved ones of the news, while others are pleading for a miracle.
‘The boat flipped during the night while most of them were in their cabins,’ Heidi Sargeant, sister of Mr Hoffman, wrote on Facebook on Wednesday.
‘It sounds like it was unexpected as they didn’t manage to get a distress call out. We are hopeful they managed to get out of the boat after it flipped to give them half a chance.
Adam Hoffman (pictured with Pauline Hanson) was confirmed as one of the missing men on Wednesday morning
Eli Tonks (pictured) is believed to have been below deck as the trawler sank on Monday night
‘They were all divers and fit and healthy so if they managed to get out we are hopeful they may still be alive!’
Late on Wednesday afternoon, Mr Bidner’s mother Kay posted a picture of her son wearing a Superman shirt.
‘Time to use your superpowers Adam,’ she captioned the photo.
Mr Bidner’s sister Jodie wrote: ‘I need every one’s hope and will to help my brother Adam who is currently one of the missing men off his Trawler.
‘Adam is strong, stubborn and fit and I’m hanging on to the fact that if anyone is a fighter it’s Adam Bidner.’
She later added: ‘Hang in there bro… we will find you.’
Mr Bidner’s mother Kay shared a picture of her son wearing a Superman shirt to social media. ‘Time to use your superpower Adam,’ she captioned the photo.
Search and Rescue coordinator Jeff Barnett (pictured) said on Wednesday afternoon time was running out to find the young fishermen alive, and that a recovery operation was already being planned
Mr Tonks’ mother Jenny posted on Facebook: ‘My son and his co-workers… I have no words, we are just waiting.’
One of the people aiding the helicopter search is RACQ LifeFlight chief operations officer Brian Guthrie, who went to school with missing skipper Mr Leahy.
He said Mr Leahy was a very experienced seaman and diver, and that had given him some hope the men might still be alive.
‘He’s always been in boats around the water, diving and things like that,’ Mr Guthrie told ABC radio on Wednesday.
‘He’s very experienced in the water and I expect his crew would be exactly the same. If anyone’s going to give it their best shot, for the best outcome, these guys would be it.’
Mr Bidner’s (pictured) sister Jodie wrote: ‘I need every one’s hope and will to help my brother Adam who is currently one of the missing men off his Trawler’
Fishermen claim the boat is designed so the door to above deck opens outwards. This would effectively seal the exit if the door had not been opened before the boat sank into the rough seas