A SAILOR who fell 14m inside the cargo hold of a giant transport ship off Central Queensland appears to be making a miracle recovery, with doctors expecting to wake him from an induced coma as early as Thursday.

It comes after Australian investigators issued a breach notice on the ship for not having a "working at height" risk assessment at the time of the incident.

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau found the two crewmen were doing maintenance on the ship off the coast of Port Alma when their scaffolding "toppled over", sending both plummeting to the ground and leaving them critically injured.

Both Zhi Zhu and Weidong Li were airlifted from the Shanghai Spirit at 2.45pm by RACQ Capricorn Helicopter Rescue then delivered by ambulance to the Rockhampton Base Hospital.

READ MORE: Sailor had "stomach pushed into lungs" after 14m fall

RACQ Capricorn Helicopter Rescue at Port Alma.
RACQ Capricorn Helicopter Rescue at Port Alma. Contributed

Mr Zhu was initially in a critical condition with fractured ribs, broken left elbow, broken pelvis, potentially bruised spleen and his stomach forced into his lungs in the form of a ruptured diaphragm, which has now been repaired.

The seriousness of his injuries meant doctors have kept him in an induced coma.

Mr Zhu's is now in a serious condition, meaning his life is no longer at risk.

However, he is not expected to leave hospital for at least four weeks.

Mr Li meanwhile was less injured in the fall, and is likely to be released in the next 24 hours.

The Shanghai Spirit's Hong Kong owners are still attempting to bring Mr Zhu's wife to Australia from China, but her expired passport and delays caused by the Chinese New Year mean it could be up to 15 days before she arrives.

Mr Li's next-of-kin will only be brought to Australia if he is kept in hospital and unable to fly home to China.

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority detained the Shanghai Spirit after discovering its lack of risk assessment to do with height was in breach of the Maritime Labour Convention.

Ship insurer spokesman Michael Fisher said he expected the ship to leave on Wednesday night.


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