Australian police reduce 'ghost ship' crew search

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Rescue services looking for the crew of a "ghost ship" found drifting off Australia's Great Barrier Reef have scaled back the search.

Police now believe that the crew onboard the 12-metre-long catamaran were thrown overboard on Sunday in bad weather conditions, raising fears that the crew may not have survived.

The search for the three crewmembers, named by the local media as 56-year-old skipper Derek Batten, 69-year-old Peter Tunstead and his 63-year-old brother James, has now been scaled down.

The Kaz II yacht was seen to be drifting on Wednesday but a search team only reached the deserted craft on Friday when no-one was aboard.

Described by John Hall, a spokesman for Queensland's emergency management office, as "strange", the discovery of the "ghost ship" has sparked comparisons to the Mary Celeste, an abandoned ghost ship found off the coast of Portugal in 1872.

"The engine was running, the computers were running, there was a laptop set up on the table which was running, the radio was working... and there was food and utensils set on the table ready to eat," Mr Hall told the BBC.

Although the sails were up one of the sails is reported to have been very shredded while three lifejackets remained onboard.

Rescue teams will now continue their scaled-down search around the coast of North Queensland.

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