(Sydney) Stranded on an Australian atoll without food for six days, eleven Indonesian fishermen have been rescued and are receiving medical treatment, Australian authorities said on Wednesday.
Ten men were shipwrecked on Bedwell Island, located some 300 km west of Broome, a coastal town in northwestern Australia. Their boat had been hit by a powerful tropical cyclone while fishing in the Indian Ocean.
An eleventh fisherman from another vessel had also reached shore after spending 30 hours in the water. Authorities fear his nine crewmates drowned after their boat sank.
According to photos released by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority, the stranded fishermen built a makeshift camp on the beach by salvaging what they could from their beached boat nearby.
Spotted by an Australian Border Force reconnaissance plane, the fishermen were then able to be airlifted and evacuated from the island on Monday evening thanks to a rescue helicopter dispatched to the scene.
They are now receiving medical treatment on land in Australia and will return to Indonesia once recovered, officials said.
“Upon arrival on the mainland, individuals received appropriate medical care and support,” the Australian Maritime Safety Authority said in a statement.
Isolated and inhospitable, Bedwell Island is essentially a stretch of white sand with no natural shelter or source of fresh water.
Tropical Cyclone Ilsa made landfall in Western Australia on Friday, bringing sometimes record-breaking wind gusts to coastal areas of the country.