Northern Territory Police are investigating a marine incident which occurred off the coast of Elcho Island on Wednesday 28 August, 2019.
At about 1:00pm Galiwinku Police attended Point Bristow, situated at the southern end of Elcho Island and at the western entrance of the Cadell Strait, after receiving a report that a vessel, with numerous persons on board, was sinking.
Upon arrival, police located a four-metre boat partially submerged in the water, approximately 60-80 metres from shore.
Twenty-one people who had been on board the vessel were all accounted for. The vessel occupants swam through the shallow water and made it to shore. The majority were children aged as young as five. A number of the children clung to the overturned vessel and adults made numerous trips back and forth to retrieve them.
Police enquiries have confirmed that there were no life jackets, no Epirb, flares or any other safety equipment on the boat. Had the vessel sunk further from shore, it would likely have resulted in significant loss of life.
Senior Sergeant Daniel Whitfield-Jones stated, “This is a timely reminder that skippers on the water must operate their vessels in a safe manner. This includes ensuring that all safety equipment is on board, the vessel is seaworthy and that it is not overloaded. This could have had a significantly worse outcome. Police would like to thank everyone who assisted with the rescue. Their timely intervention prevented further injuries or death occurring”.
Investigations are continuing.