Indonesian Search and Rescue Mission Underway for Missing Australians Following Boat Disappearance


An urgent search and rescue operation is currently underway in the waters of Aceh, Indonesia, aimed at locating seven individuals, including four Australian tourists, who have been reported missing after encountering adverse weather conditions. The group, comprising four Australian nationals – Elliot Foote, Steph Weisse, Will Teagle, and Jordan Short – along with others, were travelling on a wooden speedboat near Sarang Alu and Banyak islands within Aceh Singkil district.

The families of the missing individuals are deeply concerned and anxious about their loved ones’ well-being. The uncertainty surrounding their whereabouts has led to heartfelt distress among the families, who are holding onto hope for their safe return. In a joint statement, the families expressed gratitude for the ongoing collaborative efforts of Indonesian authorities and the Australian government in the search and rescue mission. They have also made a heartfelt request for privacy during this emotionally challenging period.

Local authorities have actively mobilised resources for the search operation, deploying two ships, a speedboat, and an aircraft. The primary focus of Monday’s search efforts was the area between Sarang Alur and Banyak Island. Regrettably, the search operation had to be halted as darkness descended. However, the search is set to resume at 6 am on Tuesday, with a renewed commitment from the Nias Rescue Agency to locate the missing individuals.

The group of missing Australians were part of a larger contingent of 12 Australian nationals and five Indonesians who were en route to Penang Island on two separate boats. The region, known for its picturesque white sand beaches and popular surfing spots, is a sought-after tourist destination.

The voyage commenced from North Nias port on Nias Island, situated approximately 150 kilometres from Indonesia’s Sumatra Island, on a fateful Sunday afternoon. Unfortunately, the group encountered inclement weather conditions, including heavy rainfall, during their journey. Communication was lost with the boat around 6 pm on Sunday.

During the trip, ten of the passengers chose to take shelter on Sarang Alu island, while the remaining seven continued with their journey. The boat with ten passengers was safely reported to have reached its destination, according to the resort on Pinang Island. However, concerns grew as the whereabouts of the seven individuals who departed earlier remained unknown.

The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) is actively collaborating with Indonesian authorities to provide necessary support for the ongoing search and rescue efforts. Additionally, the DFAT is offering consular assistance to the families of the missing individuals. In a statement, the DFAT expressed solidarity with the affected families, extending thoughts of empathy and concern during this challenging and distressing period.