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AMSA vision - dinghy
ANSA vision - Dinghy 2
Location of vessel when found
Crime Stoppers

15 rescued from overloaded dinghy - Galiwinku

Wednesday 04-Jul-2018 12:58

Fifteen people, including five children, have arrived safely in Milingimbi after a 24-hour ordeal drifting on board a 4.4 metre aluminium dinghy without an engine.

Sergeant Andrew Hocking from the Water Police Section said the party was extremely fortunate to be found after launching from Elcho Island and heading for Milingimbi at 1:00pm on 2 July.

“The trip should have taken around six hours but engine failure half-way into their journey resulted in them drifting in choppy waters and strong currents.

“Fortunately one passenger on board had a mobile phone and managed to get in contact with our Joint Emergency Service Communication Centre (JESCC) with a 000 call at 6:20pm Monday.

“Initially there was no information how many people were on board and we were told there was no food or life jackets,” Sergeant Hocking said.

Two vessels were launched from Ramingining and Milingimbi but they could not locate the dinghy.

Police Airwing had joined the search by 10:00am 3 July and by 12:30pm a Challenger Aircraft from Cairns was deployed by the Rescue Coordination Centre in Canberra.

Sergeant Hocking said the dinghy was finally spotted by the police aircraft at 2:25pm.

“The boat was located on the very northern edge of our search area and was at that time drifting to the north-west. Had we started the air search from the southern edge it is highly likely they may have drifted out of our search parameters by the time the grid was covered.

“It was a very close call.”

At the height of the search two aircraft, two police vessels, a Sea Rangers vessel and a private vessel were utilised.

“I would like to thank everyone involved, including the Australian Maritime Safety Authority, local rangers and community people. Police Airwing and our local officers conducted a professional operation and were rewarded in the best possible way yesterday afternoon,” Sergeant Hocking said.

“This was a very fortunate outcome in the circumstances. Fifteen people overloading a small boat in strong winds and strong currents, the potential for disaster is huge.

“Local police will be looking very carefully what safety equipment was on board and will take any appropriate action.

“This is a timely reminder to all boaties to be responsible.  Do not overload your boat, and please carry your safety gear.”