A dramatic situation has unfolded in Queensland after a crewman jumped ship in Townsville, sparking an international quarantine breach and frantic border force manhunt.
On Sunday night the Australian Border Force was on the hunt for a Pakistani national who escaped after the ship — Polaris 3 — which was docked at the Port of Townsville.
The livestock ship had spent a few days offshore after arriving in Australia. It departed Huanghua, China on April 12.
On Saturday night the man reportedly left the ship at 8pm and was last seen in a white van leaving the port. 9News says he has not been seen since.
But an escalation of the situation has seen another 11 crew members, believed to be Syrian, refusing to get back on the ship and are now claiming asylum.
The Townsville Bulletin reports those crew members have tested negative to Covid-19. The man on the run had not been tested.
They are now being detained by the Australian Border Force and will be moved to hotel quarantine at an undisclosed location outside of Townsville.
Another 37 crew of the Polaris 3 remained on the ship and has reportedly been cleared to exit the port. On Sunday night the ship was still moored in Townsville.
News.com.au has contacted Queensland Health and the Australian Border Force for comment.
“Australian Border Force are working with Queensland Police Service in relation to one crew member who is currently unaccounted for,” Federal Herbert MP Phillip Thompson told the Bulletin.
The Polaris 3 is a livestock carrier that was built in 2008 and is sailing under the flag of Panama.
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