Company behind WA boating incident says vessel didn’t capsize

The company involved in Friday’s Horizontal Falls boating ordeal insists its didn’t capsize, rejecting vessel police and witness claims passengers were thrown into the water.

Investigators are on site looking for answers as a 13th patient – a 49-year-old woman suffering a suspected spinal or back injury – is set to arrive at Royal Perth Hospital from Broome tonight.

All 12 other patients will spend a second night in Royal perth Hospital to be treated for their injuries and they are all in a stable condition.
Three Royal Flying Doctor Service jets carrying seriously injured passengers touched down from Koolan Island in Western Australia's north.
Three Royal Flying Doctor Service jets carrying seriously injured passengers touched down from Koolan Island in Western Australia’s north. (9News)

Nine of these patients are currently being treated in the hospital’s trauma unit.

Under the cover of darkness on Friday night, Jandakot airstrip turned into a makeshift emergency ward as the dozen seriously-injured tourists were flown to Perth.

Three Royal Flying Doctor Service jets carrying seriously injured passengers touched down from Koolan Island in Western Australia’s north.

The first person walked off the plane at around 8pm last night but many others were wheeled across the tarmac.

Stretchers were loaded into a large transfer ambulance and the last patients arrived at 2am.

Seven women and five men aged between 46 and 70 were transported to the hospital for specialist care.

Under the cover of darkness, Jandakot airstrip turned into a makeshift emergency ward.
Under the cover of darkness, Jandakot airstrip turned into a makeshift emergency ward. (9News)

With the mammoth rescue mission complete – with the assistance of six aircraft, six doctors and six flight nurses – the focus now turns to how the adventure turned wrong.

Two marine inspectors from the Australian Maritime Safety Authority arrived in Broome this afternoon and went straight to the remote site of Friday morning’s incident.

They will be assisted by Kimberley Detectives and Worksafe.

9News understands the experienced skipper struck rocks.

“A number of people did find themselves in the water and a number of people are injured,” Commander Brad Sorrell said.

However, in a statement, the operator Horizontal Falls Seaplane Adventures said the boat did not capsize and immediately returned to the pontoon.

The majority of patients who were transferred to Broome Hospital were discharged overnight.

Two people remain in a stable condition with minor injuries.

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority has issued a direction notice to the operator which prohibits them from using the vessel involved in Friday’s incident or any other vessel to transit the Horizontal Falls pending the outcome of the investigation.

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