How a man miraculously survived 24 hours in shark and crocodile-infested waters clinging to a piece of wood after his dinghy capsized in a remote part of northern Australia
- A 31-year-old man was stranded in the rough Torres Strait ocean for 24 hours
- He had planned to travel to Warraber Islet from Moa Island on Tuesday at 11am
- However, he never arrived so authorities launched a search and rescue mission
- Rough conditions meant helicopters could not operate and visibility was poor
- The man was found at 10:25am on Wednesday, clinging to his boat’s floorboards
The rescue of a man who was found clinging to a piece of floorboard 24 hours after his boat capsized in crocodile-infested waters has been called a ‘Christmas miracle’.
The 31-year-old man was island hopping in the Torres Strait, between Queensland’s tip and Papua New Guinea, on Tuesday.
Senior Sergeant Anthony Moynihan, head officer of the Thursday Island Police Station, said he was expected at Warraber Islet from Moa Island at after setting out at 11am but never arrived.
His disappearance was reported to authorities at 4pm sparking an aerial and water search.
A 31-year-old man (above) was rescued from the Torres Strait ocean after spending more than 24 hours clinging to a piece of his capsized boat’s floorboard through rough weather
However, stormy conditions meant helicopters were unable to operate and visibility was poor.
The man was also not carrying a lifejacket, beacon or flare that would have helped searchers spot him in the water.
A fixed-wing aircraft and three helicopters alongside two Border Force choppers recommenced their search for the man at 5.30am on Wednesday but rescuers held out little hope he’d be found alive.
A volunteer marine rescue team from Moa Island and seven local water vehicles also joined the operation.
‘At 10.25am around Harveys Rock the (rescue) jet located the overturned dinghy, the police vessel attend the location and they then found the gentleman seven nautical miles (13km) north of Thursday Island floating on a piece of wood from the dinghy,’ Sgt Moynihan told Courier Mail.
A large scale rescue mission had been unable to find the man overnight but discovered him at about 10.25am on Wednesday after he left for a nearby island at 11am on Tuesday (pictured, the man being lifted to a rescue helicopter)
The man’s capsized dingy (above) was discovered by a rescue jet before the man was found floating in the ocean
The 31-year-old was winched to safety and taken to Thursday Island for treatment.
He’d managed to stay afloat in the choppy water for some 24 hours by clinging to a piece of his dingy’s destroyed floorboard.
Sgt Moynihan said the rescue was ‘the best possible outcome’.
‘This is a Christmas miracle,’ he said.
‘The weather up here was horrendous, it was too wild for a helicopter.’
He also thanked search and rescue teams as well as the Australia Maritime Safety Authority and reminded people heading out on the water around Torres Strait to pick up a free-to-loan safety pack before departing.