Three people saved in overnight rescue

Three people on an overturned boat in the Torres Strait

At approximately 3:30pm (AEST) yesterday, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) received an emergency distress beacon activation in the north-eastern Torres Strait from an unknown source.

Before the Cairns-based Challenger rescue aircraft arrived on scene, Thursday Island Water Police advised AMSA the beacon may be associated with a 5m aluminium boat with three people on board, which failed to return to the Murray Islands.

The Challenger arrived at the beacon’s location and found an upturned boat, with three people clinging to the hull. Weather conditions in the region were adverse, with 1.5m seas and winds at 20kts. 

The Challenger dropped a life-raft and communications kit to the boat. The kit allowed AMSA search and rescue officers to stay in communication with the vessel throughout the rescue effort.

In addition to the Cairns Challenger, AMSA diverted fishing vessel Torres Express to aid in the rescue, and the police vessel Conroy from Thursday Island.

AMSA also tasked a second Challenger rescue aircraft to the scene, to maintain visual contact with the life-raft until the arrival of the rescue vessel Torres Express.  

The Torres Express reached the vessel at approximately 3:30am this morning, and recovered three people from the life raft. AMSA understands all three people are safe, with no serious injuries.

Taking a registered emergency distress beacon out on the water can save your life, if your vessel is in distress. A registered emergency beacon can allow AMSA to respond immediately to an incident, which could be the difference between life and death in an emergency.  

Imagery from the rescue available here:  

Learn more about beacons here:  


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