Search resumed for man who fell from iron ore carrier anchored off Port Hedland

Search resumes for man who fell from ship anchored off Port Hedland

Port Hedland inlet

PHOTO: Big tidal surges have hampered the search at Port Headland. (Port Hedland Port Authority)

A search has resumed for a Chinese man who fell from an iron ore carrier anchored off Port Hedland in Western Australia's Pilbara.

The ship, Cape Splendor, was anchored about 25 kilometres outside the port on Monday afternoon when the 41-year-old man fell overboard.

Sergeant Michael Weir from Water Police said the crewman, a Chinese national, fell from the side of the vessel just after midday.

"He was actually doing a bit of recreational activities off the back of the ship at the time, [he] wasn't working as such, but was doing some fishing from a gangplank that was down the side of the ship," he said.

"The alarm was raised by the crew members who threw him a life ring.

"He was last seen about 500 metres off the back of the ship, floating on the water, on the surface, so we are still holding hope that he is still alive and on the surface of the water."

Sergeant Weir said the crewman had a pair of overalls on that were tied around his waist.

A search involving a helicopter and several boats failed to find him yesterday and the operation was suspended at nightfall.

A police boat from Dampier has been sent to help.

Sergeant Weir said the search area covers 200 square kilometres.

"Water temperatures up there are good which will be in his favour, but certainly it's a big task ahead of us," he said.

Police said big tidal surges in the area were hampering the search.

The port is one of the busiest iron ore export facilities in Australia, but Sergeant Weir said the port's operations had not been disrupted by the search.

"[The search] doesn't affect the operations of the Port Hedland Port at all, we are using one of the helicopters from the Port Hedland Port but it doesn’t affect any ships coming in and out of the area," he said.

The Cape Splendor is 260,000 tonnes, registered in Singapore and was built this year.

By Graeme Powell

Source: ABC News