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British diver rescued after 17 hours in shark-infested waters

A 68-year-old British scuba diver expressed relief over his rescue after 17 hours lost at sea in shark-infested waters off Australia’s northeast coast, when a solo dive trip went wrong.

Les Brierley was exploring a shipwreck off Cape Bowling Green, south of Townsville in Queensland state on Sunday afternoon, when strong currents pulled him out to sea.

Suffering from exhaustion and sunburn, he was eventually found about 25 km (16 miles) from his boat by a rescue helicopter on Monday morning, media reported.

“I feel relieved, tired and thankful,” Brierley told ABC News from his hospital bed on Tuesday.

“I thought I was going to have to swim to Cape Upstart and spend another day in the water, and I didn’t relish that because I know there’s a lot of sharks in Cape Upstart Bay.”

Brierley was lucky to be alive after forgetting his personal locator beacon, which complicated the search, said air rescue officer Alan Griffiths, who pulled the Briton from the water.

“He just said to me, ‘You should buy a lottery ticket,’ and I was like, ‘No mate, you need to buy the lottery ticket,'” Griffiths said. (Reuters)

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