A Victorian builder has been found dead in shark-infested waters off the Queensland coast.
The 48-year-old man’s body was found mauled by sharks, 13 hours after he went missing, off Palm Island.
Five helicopters and the Water Police searched for almost eight hours before recovering the body.
The man was last seen on Fantome Island, part of the Palm Island group – 65 kilometres off Townsville.
He and three friends were enjoying a day out, when their boat floated away.
Emergency Management Queensland’s Allan Jefferson said: “Four of them went swimming out to the boat, three of them made it and the fourth one never got there.
“The person has gone into the water to retrieve the boat last night and has not returned.”
Police were alerted around 7.30pm last night and scoured the waters, along with a rescue helicopter until 1am.
“It was a dark night last night,” Allan said. “No moon and we’re limited as to how low we can go at night.”
Search efforts intensified at first light, with five helicopters from Townsville, Cairns, and Rockhampton combining efforts with the coastguard and other fishermen.
It is still unclear whether the man drowned or was taken by sharks first.
“We noticed a very big shark in the search area this morning,” Allan said.
Inspector Ian Houghton, of Townsville Police, said: “The body was retrieved from water by the water police.
“The exact cause of death will be determined at a later time.”
It is hoped an autopsy will provide hope for loved ones.
Police are now in the process of contacting the man’s family. It is believed he is from Victoria working in North Queensland on refurbishment’s in the Palm Island region.