Brisbane, Australia –
Three sailors from Russia and France were rescued on Wednesday after the inflatable catamaran they were trying to sail from Vanuatu to Australia was attacked by sharks, authorities said.
The Australian Maritime Safety Authority said it responded to a distress signal alert at around 1:30am. When rescuers arrived at the site, which is more than 500 miles (800 kilometers) east of Australia’s Coral Sea coast, they said they found both hulls of the 30-foot (9-metre) long ship had been damaged by multiple shark attacks.
The agency called for the help of the Panamanian-flagged cargo ship Dugong Ace, which was able to complete the rescue and get the two Russians and one Frenchman on board. A rescue plane also flew to the scene of the accident.
“All three men were very happy to be rescued and they were safe,” said Joe Zeller, chief of service at the agency’s Canberra response center.
The men, aged between 28 and 64, are due to arrive in the Australian city of Brisbane on Thursday.
Zeller said a voyage from Vanuatu, a Pacific island nation, to Australia on such a ship typically takes two to three weeks.
Aerial photographs showed extensive damage to the catamaran, with the entire forward portion of one hull missing.
Zeller said the encrypted GPS beacon signal saved the men’s lives, allowing rescuers to pinpoint their exact location and organize an appropriate rescue. He said there are many reasons a shark might attack the boat.
“However, the motives of these sharks are unknown,” Zeller added.