French boat rescues injured Indian sailor from yacht

AMSA via AP

Tomy had been keeping in contact with rescue authorities through text messages, but batteries on his two devices were running low,

Posted: Sep 24, 2018 9:10 AM

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — A French ship on Monday rescued an Indian sailor who was injured in the remote southern Indian Ocean when his sailboat lost its mast in a storm during a round-the-world solo yacht race, officials said.

India’s defense minister, Nirmala Sitharaman, tweeted that it was “a sense of relief to know that naval officer” Abhilash Tomy was “rescued by the French fishing vessel. He’s conscious and doing okay.” She said the ship would take Tomy to a nearby island by evening and an Indian navy frigate would then take him to Mauritius for medical attention.

Indian navy spokesman Capt. D.K. Sharma said Tomy, 39, was sailing in a solo around-the-world sailboat race called the Golden Globe Race.

Started in 1966, the competition involves circumnavigating the globe without any modern technology except satellite communications. This year’s race began in France on July 1.

“He has been pulled out on a stretcher by a French fishing vessel. He is conscious and is in safe hands,” Sharma said. “He’s resting in the sickbay of the ship.”

Sharma said the rescue operation involved the Royal Australian Navy, the French vessel and India’s navy.

Australian officials earlier said the French fisheries patrol boat Osiris headed 740 kilometers (460 miles) to Tomy after his yacht, Thuriya, lost its mast on Friday.

The yacht was in Australia’s search and rescue zone 3,500 kilometers (2,200 miles) southwest of the Australian city of Perth and 3,000 kilometers (1,875 miles) southeast of the French island of Reunion, said Australian Maritime Safety Authority search and rescue officer Phil Gaden.

He said Tomy had an injured back.

“We do know he’s got a very severely injured back and we believe that he’s very restricted in his ability to maneuver. We also know he’s having difficulty keeping fluids down,” Gaden said.

Tomy had been keeping in contact with rescue authorities through text messages, but batteries on his two devices were running low, Gaden said.

Another sailor in the Golden Globe Race, Irishman Gregor McGuckin, also lost his mast on Friday near Tomy and will also be rescued, Gaden said.

Sharma said Tomy was No. 3 in the race when his yacht was damaged.

“I’m sure he would have brought laurels to the country. Unfortunately, this feat could not be completed,” he said. “But we are very happy that he’s safe and sound and we’ll soon have him back.”

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