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Last Updated: Monday, 11 August, 2003, 12:45 GMT 13:45 UK
Australian anglers survive capsize ordeal
Big, hungry ones: the fishermen managed to avoid the local wildlife
Two elderly fishermen have been counting their blessings after surviving shark-infested seas and crocodile swampland in Australia.

Ross Pennisi, 82, and Phillip Sorbello, 77, were fishing off the north Queensland coast when their dinghy was knocked over by a wave.

The terrified anglers clung to their boat for two hours in waters they knew were home to sharks before dragging it through a swamp - where they were then at risk of attack by crocodiles.

"They're big, hungry ones too," said Mr Pennisi.

He said they both believed they would die at sea.

"I thought it was too slow for us to make it but the bloke from up there must have seen us and we made it to the shallows after two hours," he said.

"You have not got much time to pray there but we were thinking of him and we asked him for help and I think we got it. I've been tough all my life and thank god for that."


The hardy pair were finally spotted by a search helicopter about six hours after they reached shore.

Local police said the two men were lucky to be alive.

"There's a few creeks they had to go to through and there's a few crocodiles in there," Senior Constable Gavin Oates, of Ingham, told the Associated Press.

"If they'd sort of been swept the wrong way they could have been unlucky. One of them couldn't swim apparently."

Mr Sorbello was taken to hospital for a check-up and later released, while Mr Pennisi said he thought he may have cracked ribs.

Earlier this year, a 34-year-old woman was bitten by a young crocodile in the Northern Territory.

Last year, a 24-year-old German tourist was killed by a 4.2-metre (14-foot) crocodile after she went for a midnight swim in a river channel in the Kakadu National Park.

Rangers found eight saltwater crocodiles in the billabong before they managed to retrieve the body of Isabel von Jordan.

Stranded couple face crocodiles
13 Mar 03  |  England
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11 Dec 02  |  Africa
Crocodile kills German tourist
23 Oct 02  |  Asia-Pacific

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