Chinese man rescued in survival suit off Geraldton did not reboard vessel, will fly back to home country

Jessica MoroneyMidwest Times
The Chinese bulk carrier crew member shortly after he was rescued following 14 hours in the ocean off Geraldton.
Camera IconThe Chinese bulk carrier crew member shortly after he was rescued following 14 hours in the ocean off Geraldton. Credit: 7NEWS/7NEWS

A Chinese bulk carrier crew member who was rescued off the Geraldton coast after 14 hours lost at sea did not reboard the vessel when it left Geraldton earlier this week, and instead will fly back to his home country.

The Guardian can reveal the Chinese national was not on the iron ore carrier Guang Mao when it left Geraldton Port on Monday morning.

Authorities are remaining tight-lipped about the circumstances surrounding the man ending up in the water on Sunday July 24, declining to comment on whether he fell overboard or deliberately jumped and tried to swim to shore. The incident sparked a major air and sea search co-ordinated by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority, before the man was found the next day.

He was discharged from Geraldton Health Campus later that day.

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A spokeswoman for the Mid West Ports Authority confirmed the rescued man had not reboarded the ship, and instead would board an plane flight back to China on medical grounds.

“The vessel, Guang Mao has left Geraldton,” she said.

“The rescued seafarer did not reboard the vessel Guang Mao. He signed off from the vessel on medical grounds and was scheduled to fly back to his home country.”

It was not confirmed where or when the man would board a flight home.

Last week, Police Commissioner Col Blanch confirmed the seafarer had been rescued from the ocean wearing a survival, or immersion, suit.

“He was wearing what’s called an immersion suit, so obviously that helped a significant amount,” he said.

Mr Blanch said police were still waiting to talk to the man and the crew about what happened and couldn’t comment on whether this was a case of a border breach or someone seeking asylum. But on Monday a spokesperson for WA Police the matter was not a police investigation, and referred queries to Australian Border Force.

ABF and AMSA have refused to make further comments on the case.

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