Man survives 24 hours in shark-infested waters after dinghy capsizes

A man whose 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 bit of wood.

The Queensland man was found floating in the Torres Strait two kilometres from his upturned dinghy by an air rescue crew.

He was “clinging to some flotsam”, according to the Australian Maritime Safety Authority, and was winched to safety.

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The man, who was not named, 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 on 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 kilometres from the dinghy”, the authority said.

There are nearly 300 islands off the northern tip of Australia. Most of the islands’ residents are Indigenous Torres Strait Islanders, with close ties to territories in both Australia and Papua New Guinea.

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