The Torres Strait lies between Australia and Papua New Guinea and contains large saltwater crocodiles and sharks. Both predators swim between the islands and continental Australia making the waters dangerous for swimmers and boaters.
There are many islands located throughout the area, and a 31-year-old Australian man set out in a dinghy to reach one of the Torres Strait Islands Tuesday.
However, when he failed to update his family that he had made it to his destination, he was reported missing. The time was 6 pm. He left Moa Island at 9 am for his 40-mile journey and checked in for the last time at 11:00 am.
A search for the missing man began at 10 pm. But unfortunately, bad weather forced The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) and the Queensland Water Police (QWP) to call off the search shortly after. At 6:30 am, local volunteers joined the search party along with a rescue helicopter and police vessels. A breakthrough came at 11:30 when the man’s dinghy was spotted flipped over in the water.
He was located approximately a mile away from the small boat, clinging to a piece of debris.
QWP Senior Sergeant Moynihan told ABC that the man’s survival in the shark and crocodile-infested waters was amazing, “It’s incredible. It’s one in a million,”
He added, “To be floating in that water and knowing the creatures that are in there and to still be there some 20 hours later — he’s an extremely lucky fella.”
Photos from the AMSA show the man floating and also the ensuing helicopter rescue.
The AMSA News tweeted, “We assisted @QldPolice in a search for overdue dinghy with one person on board, in Torres Strait, after we were contacted for assistance last night. At about 11:30 am, the person was found, wicked to safety, and taken to Thursday Island for medical assistance.”
We assisted @QldPolice Water Police in a search for an overdue dinghy with one person on board, in Torres Strait, after we were contacted for assistance last night. At about 11.30am, the person was found, winched to safety, and taken to Thursday Island for medical assistance. pic.twitter.com/IABr4BQXlh
— AMSA News (@AMSA_News) December 21, 2022
The man was flown to a nearby hospital by helicopter and was said to be in “good spirits.” Fortunately he is not suffering from any severe conditions, according to officials.
The incredible rescue was described by officials as a “Christmas miracle.”
The man gave credit to God for his life-saving rescue saying, “God answered prayer.”