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'Mary Celeste' yacht mystery puzzles Oz

Abandoned vessel adrift off Queensland

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Australian air and sea rescue services are searching for the three man crew of a "ghost yacht" found adrift off the North Queensland coast, the BBC reports.

The 12 metre catamaran - thought to have set sail for Townsville from Airlie Beach* on Sunday - was spotted from the air on Wednesday. However, rescuers could only reach the vessel on Friday, and found it abandoned.

Queensland's Emergency Management office spokesman Jon Hall described the encounter as "a bit strange", elaborating: "The engine was running, the computers were running, there was a laptop set up on the table which was running, the radio was working...and there was food and utensils set on the table ready to eat."

To add to the mystery, the yacht's sails were up, although one was "badly shredded", and all the lifejackets were still aboard.

Hall said the ship's GPS might give rescuers clues as to the wherabaouts of the crew, currently being sought by 12 aircraft. He said: "That will now enable us to track backwards where this yacht has actually been in the last few days, and we're hoping that can pinpoint the search area for the missing crew." ®

Bootnote

* A trip of around 140 nautical miles by our reckoning. You can find Townsville and Airlie beach on Google Earth here and here, respectively.

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