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US: Military-trained Indian engineer helps rescue 4 from disabled sailboat

The national flags of India and US at Times Square, New York City, to mark the Indian Independence Day on August 15, 2020. (Photo by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images)

By: PTI

AN Indian engineer with prior military service aboard an oil tanker headed towards the US city of New Orleans helped in the rescue of individuals from a disabled sailboat caught amid bad weather at sea.

A press release by the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) said Thursday that in April four individuals: a US citizen, an Argentine, an Antiguan and a British captain had set out from Antigua and Barbuda for a month-long journey across the Atlantic Ocean to Barcelona.

However, after only five days, their sailboat’s generator broke down, but they intended to continue and ration their supplies and batteries for their Global Positioning System and other electronics.

On May 15, foul weather broke their foresail, and the boom began swinging wildly in the 60-knot winds. They were able to communicate by radio with nearby ships that informed them the weather would only get worse.

“There was this terrible weather, and all of sudden, out of nowhere, appears this tanker,” said Vanessa, one of the survivors. With an oil tanker suddenly at their side, they made the decision to abandon ship and work with the tanker crew to extricate themselves.

“After three attempts, one of the tanker’s engineers, an Indian national with prior military service, used a rescue rope launching gun and fired a perfect shot to the hands of the Argentine survivor,” the release said.

The release did not name the Indian national. “All but the captain were taken onto the tanker to safety, although the Antiguan was suffering from hypothermia and required medical assistance. The captain later made his way to the Azores archipelago,” it said.

The tanker’s next port of call was New Orleans, though it would not be a direct voyage.

The survivors spent 24 days on the tanker. Eventually, they debarked from the tanker in the Mississippi River to the New Orleans Airport where they were able to book flights.

The CBP said as they had left Antigua and Barbuda and never formally entered the US, they required proper immigration processing. CBP Officers expeditiously processed the survivors, one of whom required humanitarian relief as he did not have a non-immigrant visa, and allowed the three to continue on their travels. Officers assigned to the port of New Orleans processed for entry of the three shipwreck survivors Wednesday (8) morning.

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