Asylum bid on a home-made raft
AUTHORITIES are assessing the asylum bid of a man who tried to get to Australia on a one-metre-square raft of branches, sticks and string in 40-knot winds in the wake of Cyclone Oswald.
The Turkmenistan man, now in the custody of Department of Immigration officials on Thursday Island, set out to cross the Torres Strait on Wednesday morning from Papua New Guinea. He reportedly left the village of Sigabadura and was found by locals in mangroves on Saibai Island, a few kilometres off the Papua New Guinea coastline.
Australian Maritime Safety Authority spokeswoman Jo Meehan told ABC radio the man was in good health, considering his plight. ''I am genuinely surprised that he got there. This is certainly a first for me. It's not something we would recommend people do,'' she said.
The weather in the area was severe at the time, Ms Meehan said, with a 1.5-metre swell and strong winds.