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Search Boss Tasked With Finding School Mate Among Missing Fishermen

The group has been missing since Monday

Search Boss Tasked With Finding School Mate Among Missing Fishermen Pic: QPS/Life Flight

In a sad twist of fate, it's been revealed the bloke in charge of the search for six fishermen missing off the coast of Central Queensland is an old school mate of the boat's skipper. 

Fishing trawler Dianne rolled near Middle Island, off the coast of Bowen, in rough conditions on Monday night. 

Seven men were on board at the time, though only one has been found alive. Survivor Ruben McDornan was found on Tuesday by a passing yacht in what's been described as 'pure luck'. 

McDornan had been clinging to the hull of the overturned boat for more than 12 hours. 

The six others on board at the time were believed to have been below deck at the time of capsize. There are reports McDornan heard them banging and calling for help. 

Along with police boats and other vessels, LifeFlight is coordinating its Bundberg-based rescue helicopter in the search. 

The coordinator of the search is Brian Guthrie.. an old school friend of missing skipper Ben Leahy

"We went to school together and enjoyed a whole lot of good times and I know that if anyone's got a good chance it's Ben. He's an experienced person in the water and out of the water on boats, his whole career has been on the water and with boats so he's got a really good chance, if anyone does", said Guthrie. 

He says Leahy is highly experienced. 

"Throughout Australia he's been working well over 20 years. It's been a long time doing this. Straight out of school is when Ben started working on boats and that's in all industries.. abelones, pearls and most recently sea cucumbers."

"So he's the most experienced person I know and if I was ever going out on the water, it'd be with Ben."

Guthrie, like the mens' families, is holding on to hope the men are still alive. 

"Absolutely. There's no question about that. For us, we are still treating it as that" 

"The water conditions are very different to South of Australia as far of the temperature of waters and things like that so survivability is certainly there within the waters. It's very different to being in southern waters where it's quite cold and that limits your chance of surviving in the water"