Irishmen in tree avoid a load of croc

Last updated 16:54 21/01/2013

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Four Irishmen have been rescued after spending a night perched in a tree to evade crocodiles after their boat capsized.

The four men thought to be aged in their 30s were in a boat and were trying to catch mud crabs on Darwin Harbour when a wave caused the boat to capsize on Sunday.

Director of CareFlight, Ian Badham, said apart from being covered in insect bites they were in good health despite their ordeal.

"After their boat capsized they got themselves into the mangroves and spent the night in the tallest mangrove tree they could find," Badham said.

"They were bitten savagely by sandflies and mosquitoes and were very worried about being eaten by larger things.

"They did see crocodiles but they (the men) stayed out of the water," he said.

It was only on Monday morning when the tide went out that the men were able to get back to their small craft and activate the emergency beacon,  Badham said.

The beacon alerted the Australian Maritime Safety Authority, which alerted the Northern Territory Police, CareFlight and a commercial helicopter.

The commercial helicopter spotted the men and CareFlight then winched them up to safety and across to a sandbar to be checked out.

On Sunday night Darwin was buffeted by gusty winds up to 50kmh and up to 25mm of rain fell.

Badham said the men were OK but feeling embarrassed.

"They kept a level head overnight, were sensible and because of that they are alive," he said.

"They are looking forward to cleaning up and having a shower and having a beer."

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