Monday 10 December 2018

Rescued Indian and Irish sailors reach remote island

The French fisheries patrol boat Osiris rescued injured Indian Abhilash Tomy and Irishman Gregor McGuckin.

Indian sailor Abhilash Tomy lays on the floor of an inflatable boat as rescuers transfer him from his damaged yacht (AMSA/AP)
Indian sailor Abhilash Tomy lays on the floor of an inflatable boat as rescuers transfer him from his damaged yacht (AMSA/AP)

By Rod McGuirk, Associated Press

An Indian and an Irish sailor rescued from damaged boats in the remote southern Indian Ocean have reached an island to undergo medical assessments, officials said.

The French fisheries patrol boat Osiris rescued injured Indian Abhilash Tomy, 39, and Irishman Gregor McGuckin, 32, late on Monday after their boats lost masts in a storm on Friday while competing in the around-the-world Golden Globe Race.

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority, which co-ordinated the rescues in the Australian search and rescue zone 2,200 miles south-west of the Australian city of Perth and 1,875 miles south-east of the French island of Reunion, said the sailors arrived at a French research station on remote Amsterdam Island on Tuesday.

“They will be assessed by a medical team before any decisions are made,” the authority said in a statement.

The station has a doctor and a small hospital where the conditions of both sailors will be assessed, said the authority’s response center manager, Alan Lloyd.

Mr Tomy had reported a back injury during the storm that had left him bedridden.

“Both sailors have been reported as well,” Mr Lloyd told reporters.

“Tomy was able to assist himself by transferring off the vessel onto the Osiris.”

Indian Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman tweeted on Monday that it was “a sense of relief to know that naval officer Tomy was rescued by the French fishing vessel. He’s conscious and doing okay”.

She said an Indian navy frigate would take Mr Tomy from Amsterdam Island to Mauritius for medical attention.

Mr Lloyd said an Australian navy frigate would reach Amsterdam Island on Friday with plans to take the two sailors to the Australian port of Fremantle.

Whether Mr Tomy goes to Mauritius or Fremantle will depend on his medical assessment at Amsterdam Island, Mr Lloyd said.

“At this stage, we would suggest his condition is stable, but obviously we await the final medical advice,” Mr Lloyd said.

An Indian Armed Forces P-8 Poseidon surveillance aircraft flying from Mauritius helped authorities assess the conditions of the sailboats.

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Adventurer Gregor McGuckin on his yacht (Niall Carson/PA)

Mr McGuckin lost both masts, but constructed a temporary jury-rig to get his sailboat to within a few miles of Mr Tomy’s boat. He was rescued a few hours after Mr Tomy, Mr Lloyd said.

Indian navy spokesman Captain DK Sharma said on Monday that Mr Tomy was in third place in the race that began in France on July 1 when he lost his mast.

“I’m sure he would have brought laurels to the country. Unfortunately, this feat could not be completed,” Capt Sharma said.

“But we are very happy that he’s safe and sound and we’ll soon have him back.”

Press Association

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