News State Western Australia News Hope fades: Second body found in search for four fishermen missing off WA coast

Hope fades: Second body found in search for four fishermen missing off WA coast

Police are working to identify the two bodies discovered off the Fremantle coast near Garden Island. Photo: ABC News/Eliza Laschon
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Two men have died and another two relatives are missing after a planned fishing trip off the Perth coast near Rottnest Island has turned to tragedy.

Police say two bodies were found west of Garden Island on Friday afternoon and they are yet to be formally identified.

The first was located about 1.30pm on Friday and the second was spotted at 5.40pm in the same vicinity.

The 50-year-old boat owner, his brother believed to be in his 40s, his 24-year-old son and another family member, 31, set out on Wednesday night and have not been seen since.

Fremantle Police Inspector Sean Togher said an extensive air and sea search resumed at first light on Saturday since concerned family members contacted police late on Thursday night after visiting the launch ramp at Woodman Point and finding the car and empty boat trailer.

“Every moment that goes past when a vessel is overdue, we work on two scenarios – the persons still being on board the vessel with the vessel adrift or the persons being in the water,” Inspector Togher told The West Australian.

“Worst-case scenario, when a person is in the water we work on what is called a time frame for survival and that is based on water conditions and water temperature.”

“There are a lot of factors and conditions that we need to take into account, down to individuals, their level of fitness and what they are wearing.”

“We will basically continue searching until we have no likelihood of either rescue or recovery,” he said.

No emergency calls have been received from the men and Water Police want to hear from anyone who may have been boating at Rottnest Island on Thursday and saw the vessel.

The 5.5 metre boat, the Yeah Buoy, set off for what was expected to be a routine family fishing expedition.

A severe weather warning was issued for the Perth metropolitan area on Wednesday night, with strong and damaging winds forecast.

Bureau of Meteorology observations show wind gusts on Rottnest Island reached speeds of 54 kilometres per hour on Wednesday night.

Speaking from aboard a search boat, Fremantle Sea Rescue volunteer Nick Hill said the conditions at the time were cause for concern.

The boat had a full suite of emergency equipment including an EPIRB, life jackets and flares, but neither the EPIRB nor the flares had been activated.

A family friend who had been invited to go on the fishing trip told The West Australian the skipper was a “safety-conscious man” who didn’t like to have alcohol on board his boat in case someone fell overboard.

“I ended up not going because of the weather … it was going to be rough,” he told the paper.

“It’s lucky my gut kicked in and I didn’t end up going. I was lucky but I just keep my fingers crossed hoping they’ll come home. It’s just a waiting game. I’m pretty heartbroken.”

He said the four men, who had  planned to return to shore about 2pm on Thursday had caught “just a couple of bass and one squid” and that they “sounded happy”.

-with wires