Three people have been rescued after sharks attacked an inflatable yacht off the Australian coast

SYDNEY, Sept 6 (Reuters) – Three people aboard a rubber raft in the Coral Sea off Australia’s northeast coast have been rescued after the ship was damaged by several shark attacks, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority said on Wednesday.

Satellite images and videos on AMSA’s website showed a large portion of the yacht’s stern torn off.

“The ship had departed Vanuatu and was heading to Cairns (Australia) when contact was made. The ship’s hulls were damaged after several shark attacks,” AMSA said in a statement.

Rescue crews responded to an emergency locator beacon registered on the Tune, a nine-metre-long inflatable raft on a round-the-world expedition, early Wednesday morning. The yacht was located about 835 kilometers (519 miles) southeast of Cairns in the Coral Sea.

AMSA requested assistance from a Panama-flagged vehicle carrier, which successfully carried out the rescue.

AMSA said the three passengers – two Russians and one Frenchman – were scheduled to arrive in Brisbane on Thursday.

Anna Kosikhina, a spokeswoman for the trip, which she said was aimed at promoting Russia and Siberia and began two years ago, said the three men on the boat were unharmed.

“They were all safe. No one was hurt,” she said.

“The only thing is that the balloons of the inflatable boat burst.”

Kosikhina said this was not the first accident on the voyage, as the steering gear of a previous ship had malfunctioned during a previous voyage from Chile to Easter Island.

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The crew continued the expedition on an inflatable raft of the same manufacturer which had been stored on the island for several years.

(Additional reporting by Ringo Jose in Sydney; Additional reporting by Wang Jiawei and Mahizabin Syed; Edited by Michael Perry

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