He praised the heroism of the volunteers and surfers who helped save lives in “one of the most tragic incidents we have seen here in Illawarra”.
An eighth man, a surfer who suffered chemical burns to his face while helping with the rescue, also required medical attention.
Alex Rush, one of 10 surfers who took part in the effort and provided his board for one of the men as a flotation device, said they tried to get the men out of there as quickly as possible while waves were breaking in the area.
“The boat passed where we were surfing. We were right there, ”Mr. Rush said.
Nigel Pennington, another surfer who witnessed the incident, said the swell was heavy in the area where the boat was found.
“The surfers responded right away. These guys were under this boat in pretty bad conditions, ”he said.
Norman Rees, NSW chief ambulance inspector, said seven ambulances and a number of helicopters were needed to cope with the difficult and chaotic conditions.
“Thirty-five years of work is one of the most important in which I have participated,” he said.
Police have seized the capsized boat and are speaking with the ship’s captain and witnesses as part of an investigation into the incident.
“All we know is that the vessel capsized off or near Waniora Point. What caused this we don’t know, ”said Darren Brown, NSW Chief Inspector of Police.
He said the men knew each other and may have been fishing or engaging in some other form of recreation, but the exact circumstances were still unknown.
Specialized officers from the NSW Police Marine Area Command in Sydney will assist in the investigation.
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