Woman found after floating for days
An Australian woman who vanished last week from an island off southern Thailand
and presumed drowned has been found alive in Indonesian waters.
Dominique Courteille, 57, was picked up on Monday by a fishing
boat after apparently drifting in a dinghy
for several hundred kilometres.
The Perth mother of four, who is described as being in a serious condition, disappeared early last Thursday from Lipe Island near Satun.
The keen yachtswoman was the subject of a three-day air and sea search by Thai Marine
Police, but the hunt was called off late Sunday.
Australian consular officials confirmed her miraculous rescue
late on Monday, but could add only sketchy details.
Courteille, who has been living in the southern Thai coastal city of Phuket for 18 months, was in a serious condition and was unable to speak after floating at sea for many days without food
, one of her crewmen.
She had gone missing around 2am last Thursday when she left shore aboard a dinghy
to return to her 11-metre yacht Sonnet after a night out on Lipe Island.
Her two male crew reported her missing when she failed to return.
Crewman Manfred "Richie" Neustifter, 24, originally from the Gold Coast but now also living in Phuket, said he and Swiss colleague Conrad Ohlier, 43, "just hugged each other" when they learned of their skipper's rescue
The pair said they had been given a "tough grilling" by police who thought they had been involved in the woman's disappearance.
Neustifter said: "I don't know when they picked her up but they said an Indonesian fishing
boat found her in Indonesian waters - that means she has floated through the Malacca Strait.
"They said she was not able to speak. So, it appears she could still die or be in a critical condition. I don't know what she survived on."
The three had been sailing Courteille's yacht back from Langkawi Island in Malaysia
- a journey of about 140 nautical miles.
Courteille was born in Belgium, but spent many years in Australia
. Her ex-husband and four children
live in Perth, Western Australia
Source: AAP - Tuesday Mar 7 08:26 AEDT