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Russian, French sailors rescued off Australian coast after shark attacks


Canberra, Sep 6 (IANS) Australian authorities on Wednesday coordinated the rescue of three sailors — two Russians and one French — off the country’s northeast coast after their boat was damaged by sharks.

In a statement, the Canberra-based Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) said the three sailors were on board an inflatable catamaran sailing from Vanuatu to Australia when it was damaged in several shark attacks, reports Xinhua news agency.

AMSA said the sailors activated an emergency position-indicating radio beacon (EPIRB) at 1.30 a.m. on Wednesday more than 800 km south-east of the city of Cairns in the state of Queensland, triggering a rescue operation.

“The vessel departed from Vanuatu and was bound for Cairns when contact was established. Both hulls of the vessel have been damaged following several shark attacks,” the statement said.

Authorities from AMSA contacted the Dugong Ace, a nearby Panamanian-flagged vehicle carrier, for assistance and dispatched a Cairns-based challenger rescue aircraft to the scene.

“Dugong Ace successfully conducted the rescue and collected three people,” the statement said, adding that “they are due to arrive in Brisbane on Thursday morning”.

AMSA spokesperson Joseph Zeller told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation that the sailors were calm and well-prepared during the rescue.

“The sailors were very lucky because they had an emergency distress beacon which enabled us to tell the most appropriate and fastest response to rescue them,” he said.


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