UPDATE: The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) has confirmed the search had halted as of 5pm on Friday and it is not known if the effort will continue.
A frantic search for a woman is underway after a small boat capsized in rough water, throwing its three occupants overboard.
Wendy Richardson, 68, was traveling between the islands in a small inflatable boat when it was overturned by the notoriously dangerous Torres Strait waters around 2 p.m. Thursday afternoon.
Rescue workers were able to recover two passengers but were unable to locate the speech therapist and the Cairns mother, who were reportedly not wearing life jackets.
The trio had been separated in the water, and those rescued told rescue services that she was last seen swimming alone toward a large coral.
The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) was unable to locate Ms Richardson, who has now been missing for over 24 hours, and rescue efforts have resumed south-east of Mabuiag Island after being suspended overnight.
Wendy Richardson, 68, was traveling between the islands in a small inflatable boat when it was overturned by the notoriously dangerous Torres Strait waters around 2 p.m. Thursday afternoon
The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) was able to locate and rescue two other people who were on the same boat south-east of Mabuiag Island (pictured) but have been unable to locate Ms Richardson who has now been at sea for over 24 hours
Ms Richardson worked in the area as a speech-language pathologist and was a valuable member of her communities, her sister Julie Ryan told the Cairns Post.
“The family is very concerned. “We haven’t had an update this morning, at best she is alive but alone and has spent a lot of time in the water,” Ms Ryan said.
“Wendy works as a speech therapist for underprivileged children. She goes there so often because many children need her help. She has to travel between the islands, but she has always said that the journey is very dangerous.
“She used to tell me she had to travel between the islands in ‘thin’ inflatable boats. “She always said she was afraid to travel.”
The trio had swum to a small reef after their six-metre dory-style boat capsized between the islands of Badu and Mabuiag.
After Ms Richardson decided to swim to a larger reef nearby, she was separated before disappearing.
The 34-year-old man and 22-year-old woman were found about three nautical miles from the end of Mabuiag Island and taken to Thursday Island Hospital for treatment.
Queensland Police, working with AMSA, confirmed the search and rescue operation was underway in the notoriously choppy waters of Torres Strait.
“Police and emergency services launched a large-scale search operation over water and in the air involving multiple planes and ships around 3:30 p.m. yesterday afternoon, with the rescue helicopter locating two people in the water,” they confirmed in a statement.
“The police are very concerned for their well-being.”
“Boaters and other recreational water users are asked to report any sighting to police immediately.”
An AMSA spokesman added: “Today AMSA’s Cairns-based Challenger rescue plane and two helicopters resumed the search this morning.” Person.”
“Yesterday afternoon, AMSA deployed the Horn Island-based EMS Helicopter 700 from Mabuiag Island along with Maritime Safety Queensland (MSQ) and Queensland Water Police vessels.”
Several helicopters and one plane were dispatched by the AMSA, which works with Queensland Police, who have purchased numerous of their own vessels for the search
According to Ms. Ryan, Ms. Richardson had been helping underprivileged children in the area and was passionate about her job.
“She’s in her 60s but hasn’t retired because of the kids up there.” “She’s well known in Cairns,” she told the Cairns Post.
Other rescue operations in the region have recently had mixed results for those who died at sea.
In December 2022, a 31-year-old man from the island of Moa was adrift for 24 hours after his dinghy capsized and had only a piece of wood to hold on to before rescuers rescued him.
The search was recently called off for Denne Bourke, a missing outrigger paddler whose empty canoe was discovered on May 3 near Thursday Island.