Men rescued off Australian coast after sharks attacked inflatable boat

The crew, who were on a round-the-world expedition, said the inflatable catamaran was left completely submerged after the first attack.

Three people were rescued off the coast of Cairns, Australia, after the inflatable catamaran they were travelling in came under several attacks from sharks.

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) said it responded to an alert from a distress beacon at about 1.30am.

When rescuers arrived at the scene more than 800 kilometres (500 miles) east of the Australian coast in the Coral Sea, they found both hulls of the men’s nine metre (30ft) boat had been damaged after several shark attacks.

The crew – two Russians and a Frenchman – were on a round-the-world expedition called Russian Ocean Way and have been documenting their trip on social media.

They said they were first attacked by sharks on September 4, leaving the left cylinder of the boat damaged.

“As a result, [it] was completely submerged under water,” a post on the crew’s Instagram account said.

The catamaran was again attacked by sharks the following day, leaving the right balloon damaged and it began to sink, said the crew.

Aerial photos showed major damage to the catamaran, with the front section of one hull completely missing.

Mr Zeller said the GPS-encoded emergency beacon had saved the men’s lives by allowing rescuers to quickly pinpoint their location and mount an appropriate rescue.

The agency enlisted the help of a Panamanian-flagged ship, the vehicle-carrying “Dugong Ace,” which was able to complete the rescue and take the two Russians and one Frenchman aboard. A rescue plane also flew to the scene.

A rescue vessel and helicopter were deployed to rescue the men. / Credit: AP

“The three males were very happy to be rescued, and they’re all healthy and well,” said Joe Zeller, duty manager at the agency’s Canberra response centre.

The men, aged between 28 and 64, are due to arrive in the Australian city of Brisbane on Thursday.

Mr Zeller said a journey from the Pacific Island nation of Vanuatu to Australia on such a vessel would usually take two to three weeks.

He added there were many reasons why a shark may attack a boat.

“However, the motivations of these sharks is unclear,” Mr Zeller said.

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