Police are investigating what appears to be a human burial site off the coast of mainland Australia, with locals speculating it could be linked to a group of fishermen who were tragically shipwrecked in April.
Nine Indonesian fishermen remain unaccounted for after Tropical Cyclone Ilsa destroyed their vessel off the Western Australian coast. Another 11 were shipwrecked without food and water for six days on a remote island in The Rowley Shoals, about 300 kilometres west of Broome before being rescued.
A local fisherman reportedly discovered the arrangement of sticks and rocks when he visited the Rowley Shoals Marine Park in October. The area is remote but is popular for deep-sea fishing and is known to attract illegal foreign fishing crews who harvest fish, shark, and sea cucumber.
Skipper Harley Cuzens said he was shocked when he "spotted the sticks poking up from a distance" before wandering over to take a look.
"I thought, 'bloody hell, these are graves'," he recalled to the ABC. "It was very eerie and actually quite upsetting.
"There was one with a big cross and others with a lot of stones and sticks, and a few other mounds which I suspect are also burials."
Examination of site underway
Australian Border Force, which is responsible for patrolling the area, told the ABC it was not aware of the suspected graves. In a statement to Yahoo News Australia, WA Police confirmed it's aware of the purported burial site and will travel to the area to investigate.
"Following recent approval from the State Coroner, Broome detectives will conduct an examination of the reported site, to verify if any human remains are present," the statement supplied to Yahoo said. "At this stage, human remains have not been located in relation to this reported site."
Broome locals familiar with the area are reportedly speculating as to how the suspected bodies could've come to be on the island. One theory is that they washed up on the beach or were found in the water by illegal fishing crews, and then buried.
It is also possible the graves may belong to illegal fishermen who died from another cause on board a boat, and their fellow crew wanted to give them a proper burial so took their bodies ashore, the ABC reported.
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