SYDNEY, Sept 7: The Royal Australian Navy said Sunday it had launched a search for a Pakistani sailor believed to have disappeared overboard during a multinational military exercise in the north of the country.
The navy said the sailor, who was not named, went missing early Sunday while the Pakistan Navy ship PNS Nasr was anchored at Darwin Harbour in the Northern Territory during the biennial KAKADU military exercises.
A Northern Territory police spokesman told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation the sailor might have deliberately jumped into the crocodile-infested waters to swim to the mainland.
“A backpack was found in the water which would indicate that the person leaving the ship did know what he was doing at the time and didn´t simply fall off the ship,”
Superintendent Rob Burgoyne said.” He was described as skulking in the bushes (on the mainland), so one can work out from that, probably he didn´t want to be found.”
“The Australian Defence Force is assisting with the search and rescue efforts,” the military said in a statement, adding that the hunt for the sailor would involve boats and aircraft.
More than 1,000 people, eight warships and 26 aircraft from 15 Asia-Pacific and Indian Ocean nations are involved in the maritime exercise, which lasts until September 12.
Burgoyne said the sailor was “probably lucky that he didn´t come across one (crocodile) when he was in the water”.