Fishing trip ends in tragedy

A ROCKHAMPTON man, 50, is dead following a tragic fishing trip near Port Alma at the weekend.

The man's name has not been released. He was found about 5.15pm yesterday on the northern coast of Balaclava Island.

He had been fishing with a companion, 49, when their boat capsized near Balaclava Island about 9pm on Friday.

The friend had lost communication with the older man about 15 minutes after the accident.

He managed to swim to nearby Balaclava Island where he spent more than 30 hours before being rescued by a passing fishing boat.

The friend then raised the alarm when he arrived at shore, sparking a massive sea and land search for the other man.

The younger man was suffering from exposure and sunburn.

He was treated at Rockhampton Hospital, but was later discharged by 11.20am.

His fishing companion was not so lucky.

Yeppoon Water Police Senior Constable Gary Crozier said crews had searched an 100km square area around Balaclava Island yesterday for hours.

He said the State Emergency Service, RACQ Capricorn Helicopter Rescue, Bundaberg's Energex Community Rescue Helicopter, Gladstone's Volunteer Marine Rescue and Coast Guards from Rockhampton, Yeppoon and Gladstone had also been involved in the search for the now deceased man.

Capricorn Helicopter Rescue Service chief aircraft officer Paul Tongue said the man had not drifted far from where the fivemetre timber vessel had sunk.

Mr Tongue said the man was wearing just his underpants when found.

The man's body had been found just as the crews were preparing to call off the search for the night, Mr Tongue said.

"It was a sad ending,'' he said.

"At least he's been found. We were determined to find the poor fellow.

"I feel sorry for his poor mate.''

Mr Tongue said despite the sad ending, it had been heartening to see the region's rescue teams unite for the search.

While police were yet to complete identification on the man's body late last night, it is believed he was the missing 50-year-old fisherman.

The body was taken to Rockhampton Hospital for an autopsy.

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