MISSING TRAWLER CREW: Extensive search called off

17th October 2017 1:35 PM
UPDATED 5:38 PM
MISSING CREW: An RACQ Capricorn Helicopter Rescue Service officer deploys a self-locating datum marker buoy during the search. MISSING CREW: An RACQ Capricorn Helicopter Rescue Service officer deploys a self-locating datum marker buoy during the search. RACQ Capricorn Helicopter Rescue

WHAT WE KNOW:

Seven crewmen were on onboard a fishing trawler last night near Middle Island when it capsized and sunk.

One man was found floating in the water around 7am today by a passing boat.

An extensive air and water search is underway by the Water Police, VMR Round Hill, 1770 LARC and Gladstone Police, to locate the six other men.

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7.42PM: AN RACQ Capricorn Helicopter Rescue crewman has spoken of the tough conditions rescuers faced as they searched for six missing fishermen at Bustard Bay today.

Ready the story here.

Inspector Darren Somerville in the incident room for the missing sailors.
Inspector Darren Somerville in the incident room for the missing sailors. Mike Richards GLA171017PRESS

5:38PM:  WATER Police have confirmed the search for six missing men who were onboard a fishing trawler when it capsized, has been suspended for the night.

The extensive air and water search for the crew started this morning after one crewman, believed to have suffered minor injuries, was found floating in the water near Bustard Head by passing sailors.

Water Police coordinated the search, which involved helicopters, police, Volunteer Marine Rescue and other vessels.

The vessel involved, is believed to be the Diane, a sea cucumber trawler (pictured below).

The sea cucumber trawler, Diane, is believed to be the vessel which capsized near Middle Island on Monday night with seven crewmen on board.
The sea cucumber trawler, Diane, is believed to be the vessel which capsized near Middle Island on Monday night with seven crewmen on board. Tegan Annett


 

Broadcasts across the marine radio network continue in an attempt to raise the missing boat, as well as alerting vessels in the area.

While the search has now been suspended due to fading light and deteriorating weather conditions in the area police will resume at first light tomorrow.

4:33PM: SEARCH crews have recovered personal items and an oar washed up on the beach near Middle Island this afternoon.

1770 LARC owner Neil Mergard drove two police officers up the beach this afternoon on his amphibious vessel, which has been used for 124 rescue missions.

"There's mountainous seas and very strong winds, the beach is coated in seafoam," he said.

"We did collect some personal items, potentially from the vessel, but as far as any sign of the vessel or more survivors, nothing at all."

 

RACQ Capricorn Helicopter Rescue Service crewman Garth Snaidero said they found wetsuits, thongs and a bucket floating in the search area.

Mr Snaidero said the debris was found in a "cluster", but some was floating up to 20

0m away.

The combination of up-to-four-metre swells and heavy rain made for low visibility, which made it difficult to search for survivors.

"It's probably one of the worst days on the job I've had, weather-wise," he said.

3PM:

THE RACQ Capricorn Helicopter Rescue service has been stood down after leading the extensive search for six men missing at sea near Middle Island today.

The rescue helicopter located debris believed to be from the sunken vessel during this mornings' search.

From the air they deployed a self-located datum market buoy (SLDMB) at the search location to assist Australian Maritime Safety Authority with tracking the tides and currents in the area.

The fishing trawler capsized approximately 7pm last night, with six men below deck and one man on deck. 

EXTENSIVE SEARCH: Inspector Darren Somerville addressed the media earlier this afternoon.
EXTENSIVE SEARCH: Inspector Darren Somerville addressed the media earlier this afternoon. Tegan Annett

The man who was on deck at the time was picked up at around 7am this morning, found floating in the water by a passing yacht.

VMR, Water Police and the 1770 LARC continue to search for the six men.

2:12PM: The search and rescue operation for six missing crewmen is potentially the worst commercial vessel tragedy in the Gladstone region in 15 years.

That was the message from Gladstone Water Police Sergeant Jeff Barnett, who said rescuers were faced with "treacherous" conditions during their search today.

Seach on for missing trawler crewmen: Gladstone Water Police Inspector Jeff Barnett said there is a major search and rescue operation to recover six men missing near Middle Island.

"The reports are we've had 2.5 to three metres of swell, with the occasional four-metre swell," Sgt Barnett said.

"We're holding out hope (for the remaining six crewmen).

"This has the potential to be one of the worst commercial vessel tragedies in the time I've served this area."

Sgt Barnett said police may well have not yet known about the incident if things had occurred differently this morning.

"It was just through sheer luck that a passing couple on a yacht managed to hear the screams of the individual who was rescued," he said.

"If it hadn't been for that we still wouldn't know."

The survivor is expected to be brought ashore this afternoon, when he will be treated by medical staff.

 

1:59PM: GLADSTONE police have confirmed the majority of the men missing after a fishing trawler sank in Bustard Bay last night came from Cairns.

Inspector Darren Somerville said police were notified of the incident shortly after 7am this morning, when a yacht sailing in Bustard Bay rescued a man from the ocean.

The man told police his fishing vessel had capsized around 7.30pm last night, and had sunk at about midnight.

An extensive search and rescue operation of Bustard Bay was launched today.

SEARCH: An aerial and water rescue operation is underway for six missing crew.
SEARCH: An aerial and water rescue operation is underway for six missing crew. Tegan Annett

It remains unknown whether the man saw what happened to the rest of the crew, as he is still on board a water police vessel which is taking part in the rescue operation.

Inspector Somerville said the next of kin for the six missing people have been contacted and were "understandably shocked".

"At this stage we're conducting a search and rescue and we will continue to do so until there's no further hope of survival," he said.

This is a developing story. Updates to follow soon.