(AFP) – Oct 16, 2012
SYDNEY — Two commercial passenger jets were diverted by Australian authorities to investigate an emergency beacon signal off the nation's south coast Tuesday, with crews discovering a solo yachtsman adrift.
The Australian Maritime Safety Authority said it asked an Air Canada Boeing 777 en route from Vancouver to investigate an SOS alarm detected about 270 nautical miles east of Sydney on Tuesday morning.
"The plane's captain reported a yacht was at this location," AMSA said.
A second jet -- an Air New Zealand Airbus A320 on its way to Sydney from Auckland -- was then asked to fly over the area to confirm the yacht's position and nature of its distress.
The information allowed AMSA to despatch its dedicated search and rescue Dornier aircraft to get to the area to establish communications with the yachtsman.
"The person on board the yacht reported to have been de-masted and was running low on fuel," AMSA said.
"It is believed the solo yachtsman left Sydney two weeks ago heading (south) for Eden in New South Wales (state), but had been drifting away from land since last week," it added.
A merchant vessel had been tasked to the area to provide shelter from strong winds until coastal police arrived later this evening.
"AMSA thanks the captains and crews of the Air Canada and Air New Zealand aircraft for their assistance in the search and rescue operation, and their passengers for their patience," the authority said.
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