A man clung to a piece of wood for almost 24 hours in shark- and crocodile-infested waters off Australia after his small boat capsized – police are calling his rescue a ‘Christmas miracle’ they called it.
The unidentified 31-year-old man was airlifted to safety on Wednesday morning after air rescue teams spotted him floating in the Torres Strait. photos showing him holding onto a wooden square half its size without a life jacket or other safety equipment.
“It’s unbelievable. That’s one in a million,” said Senior Sergeant Anthony Moynihan This was reported to the Australian ABC TV channel.
“To be able to swim in that water and know the creatures there and still be there 20 hours later – he’s a very lucky man.”
The man left Moa Island, in the strait between Australia and Papua New Guinea, in his small boat at 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday for the roughly 40-mile trip to Warraber Island, the agency said.
He was in contact with his family until about 11:00 – they reported him missing at 6:00 p.m., after they failed to reach their destination or get back in touch.
The initial overnight search had to be called off before resuming on Wednesday morning – when his boat was first spotted around 11.30am. The Australian Maritime Safety Authority said.
Officials said it was seen clinging to flotsam about a mile away.
“He is in very good spirits and is not suffering from any serious illness,” Senior Sergeant Moynihan said – as a message to water users to “enjoy yourself but make sure you take adequate safety equipment”.