P&O’s Pacific Explorer is assisting in a major search and rescue operation east of Port Lincoln after one man was found dead, two are still missing and two others were found after a fishing boat capsized off the South Australian coast.

Five people set off in a fishing vessel from the port about 8.30pm on Monday. The alarm was raised when they failed to return. Police found the upturned vessel around 2am Tuesday, near Spilsby Island in Spencer Gulf.

“One man and one youth were located on a reef and winched to safety,” police said. “They were taken to hospital where they are being treated.

“We located a deceased person in the water in the same location,” Superintendent Paul Bahr added. “That person is now currently being conveyed back to Port Lincoln by the State Emergency Service and obviously we will be conducting inquiries on behalf of the coroner in regard to that death.

“At this stage we don’t know who that person is, they’re yet to be identified.”

Port return delayed

Pacific Explorer, water police, local sea rescue and an Australian Search and Rescue aircraft all helped in the search for remaining crew.

“P&O’s Pacific Explorer is assisting in a search and rescue operation east of Port Lincoln, after responding to a call to help a vessel in distress,” the line said in a statement.

Pacific Explorer was taking 2400 guests on a three-night voyage visiting Port Lincoln and Kangaroo Island. The ship was due to arrive in Port Lincoln this morning but that has been delayed as the search continues.

Pacific Explorer to the rescue

It’s not the first time Pacific Explorer has come to the rescue. It came to the aid of a stricken yacht after a crewman died in wild weather off Fiji in September last year.

Pacific Explorer also came to the rescue of solo rower Tom Robinson in October. He activated his distress beacon, just south of Vanuatu, after his vessel capsized in rough conditions.