A 12m catamaran was found drifting off Australia's east coast with no sign of the crew 20/4/07

The 12m catamaran Kaz II that was found drifting off the Australia’s north Queensland coast with computers running and food on the table but the complete absence of any crew has baffled emergency services.

The catamaran was first spotted by a coastwatch aircraft on Wednesday 18 April near the outer Great Barrier Reef, about 80nm from Townsville. It is believed a crew of three men from Western Australia, aged 56, 63 and 69 was reported to have left Airlie Beach last Sunday.

Police believe that one of the men bought the catamaran with the intention of sailing it to Western Australia via the country’s northern coastline.

A rescue helicopter identified the yacht and confirmed there was no one onboard.

It is reported in the Queensland Courier Mail that rescue crews are puzzled as to what they found, as Emergency Management Queensland Spokesman Jon Hall said: “Everything appeared normal. They got onboard and said the engines were running, there was a laptop set up on the table which was running, the radio was working, the GPS was working and there was food and utensils set on the table ready to eat, but no sign of the crew.” Mr Hall concluded: “It was a bit strange.”

Mr Hall said the boat’s GPS had been recovered and data would be analysed for clues as to the mysterious disappearance of the crew.

He said: “That will now enable us to track backwards where this yacht has actually been in the last few days, and we’re hoping that can pinpoint the search area for the missing crew.”

Search and rescue have launched 12 aircraft and four Volunteer Marine Rescue vessels in search of the missing crew.

The families of the three men have been informed and are kept up to date with the search operations.