A four metre boat overloaded with 21 people has sunk just off shore an island in Arnhem Land. Picture: NT Police
A four metre boat overloaded with 21 people has sunk just off shore an island in Arnhem Land. Picture: NT Police

4m boat sinks with 21 people on board

A FOUR-metre boat carrying 21 people has sunk just off shore from a remote island in Arnhem Land.

Galiwinku Police were called to Point Bristow, at the southern end of Elcho Island and the western entrance of the Cadell Strait, to help the passengers on board the overcrowded boat when it began to sink on Wednesday about 1pm.

Police found the boat partially submerged about 60m to 80m from shore.

The 21 passengers swam through the shallow water and made it to shore.

The majority were young kids.

A number of children clung to the vessel as adults made numerous trips back and forth to retrieve them.

There were no life jackets, flares or any other safety equipment on the boat.

Senior Sergeant Daniel Whitfield-Jones said had the vessel sunk further from shore "it would likely have resulted in significant loss of life".

"This is a timely reminder that skippers on the water must operate their vessels in a safe manner," he said.

"This includes ensuring that all safety equipment is on board, the vessel is seaworthy and that it is not overloaded."



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