On Sunday morning, a boat carrying 30 irregular migrants ran aground near the mouth of Daintree River. The passengers were believed to be seeking shelter in salt-water crocodile infested Daintree rainforest.
Police confirmed that search operations have been launched for migrants who waded through waters to reach land.
Dave Patterson, the operator of Daintree Fishing and Photography Tours, who spotted an “odd-looking wooden boat that looked like a Vietnamese-Chinese-Indonesian fishing boat” about 2 km off Cape Kimberley said, “I just thought it was a gillnetting boat.”
“I heard later on that other fishermen and tour operators went up to it and there was no one aboard and it was just adrift. There were people on it that just bailed out of the boat. ” He added, “We don’t see this kind of stuff too often, or ever.”
The Australian Border Force stated that it responded to what was presumed to be an illegal fishing vessel in the area of Daintree River.
ABF representative said “The ABF now has a contingent of officers on site and is grateful for the support provided by Queensland police service. The first priority is to confirm the safety and welfare of the people on the fishing vessel.”
Julia Leu, the Douglas shire mayor, who resides on the border of Daintree national park said that there’s a big possibility that the missing migrants are now in hiding in the mangroves.
Now that the word is out about their arrival, she doesn’t think that they would go to areas where there’s a lot of locals.
“I’m concerned about anyone who is unfamiliar with the rainforest. Anyone who finds themselves in crocodile habitat needs to exercise extreme common sense – especially in the Daintree,” she said.
“Certainly it would not be pleasant trying to make your way through rainforest or mangroves.”
Unfamiliarity with the area exposes the migrants to harrowing dangers from salt-water crocodiles.