Man Tries to Raft from PNG to Australia
Safety experts say he's lucky to be alive
In the world of sailing, there are plenty of reasons to avoid the Torres Strait in January—cyclones, huge waves, sharks and crocodiles, to name a few.
But this didn’t stop a Polish man from trying to drift from Sigabadura village in Papua New Guinea to Australia on a makeshift raft Wednesday.
Authorities have no idea why the man, believed to be in his 20s and named Vazlavand, was headed to Australia. Some suspect he was planning to seek asylum.
Vazlavand’s vessel, made up of twigs held together by string, only took him as far as Saibai Island—a few miles off the coast of Papua New Guinea—where he was found stranded in a mangrove swamp by locals at 4 p.m. Wednesday. The trip took 11 hours.
The Torres Strait is 93 miles wide at its narrowest point.
“It's the first time I've heard of someone trying to cross the Torres Strait in the middle of a cyclone,” Jo Meehan, a spokeswoman for the Australian Maritime Safety Authority, told Daily Mail.
The route Vazlavand chose would have been “challenging” even for normal vessels, she added. A cyclone had recently passed over the area leaving 1.5-metre swells.