A breaching whale Saturday capsized a nearly 15-foot boat off the coast of Australia, leaving one man dead and another in the hospital, officials said.
“At 6 this morning, police responded to reports of two people in the water,” New South Wales Water Police Acting Superintendent Siobhan Munro said at a press conference of the incident that happened off the coast of La Perouse, about nine miles southeast of Sydney.
She said the two men who had been fishing were rescued, but one was unresponsive and was confirmed dead after attempts to revive him failed.
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“Early reports are that a whale may have breached near the boat, or on to the boat” when it capsized, she added, saying the boat has been recovered and will undergo forensic testing “and then we’ll have more details” on what happened.
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The victim was 61, and the survivor is 53, who is in stable condition, officials said, according to the BBC.
“Right now there are lots of whales out there. It’s not unheard of these stories of whales breaching next to boats,” Munro added, saying that she had never seen something like this before, according to the Guardian and BBC.
She reportedly said the men may have been in the water for up to 45 minutes before they were rescued.
“The skipper stayed as close as he could to the deceased and was doing all he could to keep him afloat until police arrived,” she added.
The New South Wales minister for emergency services, Jihad Dib, called the incident said “an absolute freak accident.”
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“But it also shows the dangers that do happen on waterways,” he added.