Air passengers diverted during emergency sea rescue

Passengers on two flights out of Sydney found themselves caught up in an emergency rescue operation at sea.

A yacht sent out a distress signal around 300 miles off the Australian coast.

ITV News International Correspondent John Irvine reports on how the drama began:

Response teams asked an Air Canada and Air New Zealand flight to divert to see if they could find it.

A short time later the yacht was spotted as a dedicated search and rescue aircraft headed to the scene.

The yacht
The yacht

According to Australia's Daily Telegraph Captain, Andrew Robertson, swooped down to 5,000 feet while the crew looked out using binoculars borrowed from passengers.

As we got to about two to three miles of this yacht, the first officer said 'there it is, I see it'. I was amazed. We didn't know if we were looking for a sunken boat or one that was still floating.

– Andrew Robertson, Air Canada

The solo yachtsman left Sydney two weeks ago heading for Eden in New South Wales. But he had been drifting away from land since last week.

The unnamed man has now been picked up by police boat and taken back to shore.

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority thanked the passengers for their patience.