At around 5pm AEST on 17 April 2023, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) coordinated the rescue of 11 Indonesian fishers from Bedwell Island, approximately 313 km west of Broome, WA, whose fishing vessel had been shipwrecked during Cyclone Ilsa.
Australian Border Force (ABF) alerted AMSA to the stranded group after one of its aircraft identified people in distress as part of a planned surveillance mission.
AMSA diverted the Perth-based AMSA Challenger rescue aircraft, which was in the vicinity surveying navigational aids along the coast following Cyclone Ilsa, to investigate.
Upon arrival, the Challenger confirmed the presence of 11 people on the island and visual evidence of a beached vessel and a makeshift camp. They had reportedly been there since the early hours of 12 April.
AMSA then tasked Broome-based PHI International rescue helicopter to transport them back to Broome, where they were met by the Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia.
Upon their arrival on the mainland, the individuals were provided with the appropriate care and medical support.
The survivors reported two fishing vessels had been caught in Tropical Cyclone Ilsa, one with 10 crew and the other with 9 crew. The vessel with 10 crew washed ashore at Bedwell Island, but the second vessel with 9 crew sank in the extreme weather conditions. The one remaining survivor from this vessel spent 30 hours in the water before also being washed ashore at Bedwell Island, where they all remained for six days without food and water before being rescued on Monday night (17 April).
Download footage and images of the rescue here, Bedwell Island rescue.