Three men in Kakadu National Park are “unbelievably lucky” to have emerged unharmed after their small boat overturned in crocodile-inhabited waters, forcing two of them to swim across the South Alligator River, NT Police have said.
Police are investigating the events that occurred just after 5:00pm on Saturday.
A wave from a fast-going boat is believed to have swamped the four-metre tinny the men were in, sinking it, about 3 kilometres from a boat ramp at the river.
“The report was that people on the river had found the submerged boat which was a four-metre tinny but there were no people in the area,” Duty Superintendent Louise Jorgensen said.
“There was a lot of debris scattered around and only the tip of the boat was protruding from the water.”
Storm cell hampered search
Once authorities arrived at the boat ramp they were told a 26-year-old man who was in the tinny had been found by a fisherman, but his two friends were still missing.
“As they [police] were searching a large storm cell hit so visibility was minimal and hampered the initial efforts,” Ms Jorgensen said.
Eventually the other two men arrived at the boat ramp by themselves, after having put themselves in danger by swimming and wading through the river, which is home to numerous large saltwater crocodiles.
“They are unbelievably lucky considering the huge number of crocodiles that infest the area.”
Duty Superintendent Louise Jorgensen
“The two men had actually swum to the bank, walked along the bank of the South Alligator River, actually swam back across the river, walked through waist-deep swamps to get to the highway, which was about three kilometres away, and from there they got a lift back to the boat ramp.”
The men were checked over by the local health clinic and found to have no injuries.
“The police feared the worst when they first went down there,” Ms Jorgensen said.