Torres Strait Island Regional Council mayor Fred Gela.
Torres Strait Island Regional Council mayor Fred Gela.

‘Deeply saddened’: Family’s vow to keep searching

FAMILY of a group of people missing in the Torres Strait are expected to continue searching for them today, despite the official search being called off.

The group from remote Dauan Island, which included two men aged 22 and 47, two 21-year-old women and a nine-year-old boy, were travelling between Badu Island and Dauan on Wednesday but failed to arrive.

The seven-metre vessel was found adrift on Thursday, while a bag of items including life jackets was also located, but there has been no sign of the missing people who are understood to be all from the same family.

Searchers found the empty boat and a bag containing life jackets but no sign of the missing group of five.
Searchers found the empty boat and a bag containing life jackets but no sign of the missing group of five.

Torres Strait Island Regional Council mayor Fred Gela, who is related to the group, said he was "deeply saddened" by the tragedy but praised the efforts of police, authorities and volunteers who scoured the region for four days.

"Regionally and as a community, our collective thoughts and prayers are with those families affected," he said.

"While the official search (ceased yesterday), I understand that family members and volunteers may continue conducting their own searches.

Dauan Island near Saibai in the northern Torres Strait.
Dauan Island near Saibai in the northern Torres Strait.

"I ask that those who are continuing any searches do so safely by exercising extreme caution and assessing the weather conditions accordingly.

"(We) continue to ask that respect and privacy be afforded to the affected families."

Torres Strait police Insp Mark Lingwood said the boat had been towed to nearby Saibai Island where it will undergo an examination as part of the coronial investigation which had now been launched.