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Last Updated: Thursday, 23 August 2007, 15:52 GMT 16:52 UK
Naval ship hits Australia beach
KRI Arung Samudera stranded on Rainbow Beach near Gympie, Queensland - 23/08/07
Naval officials say the boat should be fit to tow from the beach
A three-masted Indonesian navy training ship ran aground on an Australian beach as it headed to Sydney for a tall ships show ahead of an Asia-Pacific summit.

Local residents in south-eastern Queensland were surprised to find 18 soaked Indonesian sailors standing by the roadside, having abandoned ship.

The sailors said they were forced to flee the KRI Arung Samudera after running into trouble in heavy weather.

The Australian navy is helping the sailors refloat their vessel.

The magnificent 35-metre (114ft) schooner had been sailing from Darwin down the coast of Queensland to Sydney.

It was due to meet six other tall ships for a display ahead of next month's meeting in Sydney of leaders of the 21 members of the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation (Apec).

But after being battered by winds of around 100km/h (60mph), the ship ran aground on Rainbow Beach near Gympie in the early hours of Thursday.

One of the sailors, 24-year-old Garmadi from Surabaya, Indonesia, said the crew only had time to grab a few items before abandoning the ship. "It was scary," he said. "We just brought what we saw."

Looked after

Local residents were alarmed to see the group of sailors, soaked and shivering, walking along the road.

"When I got up close I realised I didn't know who they were - whether they were boat people or sailors or what," said Christine Foote, who came across the sailors shortly after dawn.


However, when they realised what had happened, residents took their unexpected guests to the nearest police station.

The Australian navy is now looking after the sailors, providing them with warm food, dry clothes, accommodation and transport.

Australian Navy Commander Forbes Peters said the boat could probably be towed off the beach on Friday.

"At the moment it looks pretty good actually," he said.

"The hull is intact from what we can tell from the beach and it's a nice flat-bottomed vessel, so it's sitting proud on the beach and should be okay to tow off."

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