An Australian scuba diver swam 16km in the Indian Ocean overnight to reach the shore after being separated from his boat on Thursday (10 November) evening. The boat had drifted away after the anchor rope snapped.

The incident took place when 46-year-old Gene McClymans and another man were diving between Little African Reef and Big African Reef off the Geraldton coast on Thursday. He was finally rescued after eight hours from a nearby beach.

The two divers found their boat missing when they swam back to the surface following their dive into the ocean. McClymans' friend managed to find the boat, but he was lost in the sea. A search was launched for him after his fellow called the Geraldton Volunteer Marine Rescue Group, alerting them about the incident at around 7pm local time (8am BST).

Geraldton Volunteer Marine Rescue Group spokesman Ian Beard told the Australian Associated Press that they immediately sent boats to begin a search. He added that the local maritime training college and three cray boats also joined the search, but could not locate him as it was dark.

McClymans was wearing a reflective strip on his buoyancy jacket, but it wasn't enough to make him stand out, Beard said, adding that the rescuers could have passed the missing diver several times, but could not locate him in the dark.

"He [the missing diver] didn't have a torch or a strobe or any way of signalling. In the dark and in nasty, choppy conditions, it was like trying to find a needle in a haystack," Beard said.

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation quoted police as saying that McClymans spotted torch lights being flashed by his desperate family members, who were scouring the waters and a nearby beach, and swam towards them.

He was then eventually found at about 3:20am on a beach 8km south of the Greenough River mouth, police reportedly said.

McClymans was later taken to hospital for a check-up as he "would have been close to suffering hypothermia, which can be fatal", Beard said.