Acting Senior Sergeant Amanda Warby, of Yeppoon Police, addresses media on Tuesday afternoon.
Acting Senior Sergeant Amanda Warby, of Yeppoon Police, addresses media on Tuesday afternoon.

Men used inflatable raft in retrieval effort gone wrong

TWO island campers who woke early Tuesday morning to see their anchored vessel drifting away used an inflatable raft in a retrieval effort gone wrong.

On Tuesday afternoon a search continued to find a 60-year-old man lost at sea in the Keppel Island Group.

Addressing media at Yeppoon police headquarters on Tuesday afternoon, Acting Senior Sergeant Amanda Warby revealed more details about the incident which authorities were made aware of at 3.13am.

Two men, aged in their 60s, were on a fishing trip and staying on the beach at Conical Rock, north of North Keppel Island, when they woke in the early hours.

"Initial reports are that they were on the beach," Snr Sgt Warby said.

"They were woken up to notice that their vessel (7m vessel) was drifting.

"They've then got onto their inflatable raft, and rode out.

"Due to the conditions, they were being swept further away from their vessel, so they attempted to get into the water and swim to their vessel.

"One male has attempted to get onto the boat, and (made it) safely onto the boat.

"And the other (man) was in the water."

Snr Sgt Warby said the vessel had been anchored about 100m off Conical Rock.

She said at the time the men came to grief, conditions were believed to be "quite windy" which made their efforts to get back onto the boat "a struggle".

Snr Sgt Warby said the men managed to let off a distress flare which alerted authorities.

Four aircraft, Water Police and Coast Guard subsequently joined the search effort.

Snr Sgt Warby said the search would continue throughout Tuesday afternoon and a re-evaluation would be carried out at 6pm.

"We have obviously increased our ocean search and we'll re-evaluate that as time goes on.

"We're hopeful that he (missing man) will survive, and we'll continue searching at this stage," Snr Sgt Warby said early afternoon.