A man, 31, who saw his boat capsized in stormy seas off Australia’s north coast was rescued on Wednesday after he survived for almost 24 hours in shark- and crocodile-infested waters by clinging to a piece of wood.
The man from Queensland was found floating in the Torres Strait 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) from his upturned dinghy by an air rescue crew.
The man was found at 10:25am on Wednesday, clinging to his boat’s floorboards.
He had planned to travel to Warraber Islet from Moa Island on Tuesday at 11am.
His disappearance was reported to authorities at 4pm sparking an aerial and water search.
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.
He was clinging to some flotsam and was winched to safety, according to the Australian Maritime Safety Authority, which posted images of the capsized boat and the man’s rescue on social media
The unidentified man was “very lucky” to have survived, the authority said in a statement.
‘He had departed Getullai Island (on Tuesday) and failed to arrive at their destination by the expected time, the statement said.
‘A search by rescue aircraft late Tuesday was unsuccessful. The hunt resumed in the morning with the aircraft, a helicopter and a police vessel involved.
‘By late morning the upturned dinghy was located in the water and following a short aerial search the missing person was found about two kilometers from the dinghy,’ the authority concluded.
The incident comes about two months after three men whose fishing boat sank in the Gulf of Mexico were rescued after surviving for more than a day despite being attacked by sharks that inflicted deep cuts on their hands and shredded one of their life jackets.
This news is already dubbed ‘Christmas miracle’ by many.