Visser’s incredible survival story after being stranded on a deserted island for SIX DAYS when their boat was swept away by Cyclone Ilsa
- Group of Indonesian fishermen rescued off the coast of Australia
- The survivors were trapped for almost a week after the cyclone
- The storm sank one boat or beached another
A group of 11 Indonesian fishermen survived to be shipwrecked on a remote Australian island for six days after a cyclone destroyed their ships and another nine of their group drowned.
The men were fishing in the waters of Rowley Shoals off the Western Australian coast, about 300km from Broome, when Cyclone Ilsa swept through the area, bringing record-breaking winds.
The Australian Maritime Safety Authority said the surviving crew were rescued around 3pm on Monday after an Australian Border Force surveillance flight spotted their makeshift camp and stranded boat on the tiny white sands of Bedwell Island.
“The survivors reported that there had been two fishing vessels with 10 crew members each, all but one had sunk in the extreme conditions of the cyclone,” a spokeswoman said in a statement Tuesday.
“The surviving ship managed to rescue the lone survivor before washing up on Bedwell Island.”
The men had set up a makeshift camp after destructive Cyclone Ilsa sank one of their boats and beached another (pictured)
The fishing boat occupied by the men. Illegal fishing by Indonesians in Australian waters off WA is common
The ASMA ordered a rescue aircraft to collect the survivors and they were flown to Broome for medical care.
Footage from the rescue shows the men’s relief as they cheer and wave their arms in the air at the helicopter.
They were determined to survive by taking shelter on the barren white sand beach from objects in the nearby stranded ship.
Cyclone Ilsa devastated Rowley Shoals with winds of 235 km/h on April 13.
There were unconfirmed reports that the sole survivor of the second boat swam for 30 hours before being rescued, using an empty jerry can to stay afloat.
The weather system then tracked the coast of Kimberley before hitting land northeast of Port Hedland around midnight Thursday as a Category Five destructive system.
Cyclone Ilsa was called ‘incredibly dangerous’ by authorities as the Category 5 storm made landfall near Port Hedland
Rowley Shoals is located about 20 miles off the WA coast at Broome and is a popular diving spot. Indonesian fishermen there look for trepang, a kind of sea cucumber
“They were all very happy to have been found,” Gordon Watt of rescue team PHI Aviation told 7News.
“The difficulty came with the time of day … the rescue was performed in the transition from day to night,” Watt said.
“So that always adds a level of complexity to the mission.”
Each of the men was hoisted onto the rescue helicopter one by one using specialized night vision goggles.
“The crew was able to get them some water and some blankets – they were exposed.”
A WA Country Health Service spokesman said the group of fishermen were being treated at Broome Hospital.
“Indonesians were taken to Broome hospital late last night and early this morning,” the spokesman said.
“They have been treated and discharged.”
An Australian Border Force spokesman said the individuals are “all in good health despite their ordeal.”
The ABF added that work is underway to “repatriate the group as soon as possible.”
Illegal fishing by Indonesian vessels in Australian waters off WA has been an ongoing problem in recent years.