Man dies after whale strikes boat off Australia

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SYDNEY – A man was killed and another injured after a whale struck a boat off the coast of eastern Australia on Saturday, police said.

The two men were thrown from the boat when it was hit at about 6am local time (4am Singapore ime) in the waters off La Perouse, 14km southeast of Sydney.

People on a second boat raised the alarm after spotting the 4.8m runabout vessel unoccupied and circling, police said.

The 53-year-old skipper was pulled from the water nearby, treated by paramedics and taken to hospital, where he was in a stable condition, according to authorities.

The other man, 61, was unconscious and died at the scene.

The skipper had been trying to hold his boating companion “as close as he could” in an effort to save him, Water Police Acting Superintendent Siobhan Munro said.

It is thought the whale had breached near or possibly onto the boat, she added, describing the collision as a “tragic accident”.

Humpback and southern right whales can be seen along the New South Wales coastline every year.

They head north to warmer breeding grounds during Australia’s winter months, returning southwards between September and November.

“Right now there are lots of whales out there and there are lots of examples of whales breaching next to boats,” Supt Munro said.

The accident came less than two weeks after a four-metre humpback whale was struck in the head by a boat propeller off the coast of Western Australia. AFP

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