Cool box saves Australian fishermen

The men were found clinging to a cooler and were winched to safety

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Two Australian men on a fishing trip spent 15 hours clinging to a cool box in the sea after their boat capsized off New South Wales.

They called emergency services when their cabin cruiser got into trouble on Friday and they were forced to abandon the vessel off Ballina.

A search was suspended after darkness fell but resumed on Saturday morning.

The men, in life jackets, were found clutching the box near the upturned boat some 13 km (eight miles) offshore.

"They were pretty exhausted. I didn't get too much of a hand getting them into their seats, which is to be expected, they've been out all night," rescuer Jethro Lampe said after the men - work colleagues - were winched to safety.

After being flown by helicopter to the coast, they were taken to hospital for medical checks.

Skipper Paul Maher, 25, and John Lynch, 34, were celebrating the last day of work before the Christmas break with a fishing expedition, the Sydney Morning Herald reports.

The boat began taking on water through a hole which had been repaired.

The Australian air force, coastguard and local residents were involved in the rescue effort.

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