Circumnavigator Abhilash Tomy, injured and drifting in the high seas, is rescued – Here is how it happened

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New Delhi | September 25, 2018 12:04 AM

Tomy had suffered a serious back injury Friday after his yacht was damaged in a storm while representing India in the international solo circumnavigation Golden Globe Race (GGR) 2018.

Photo provided by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority on Monday shows the distressed yacht, Thuriya, in the southern Indian Ocean. (Image: AP)

Three days after he suffered a serious back injury while representing India in the international solo circumnavigation Golden Globe Race (GGR) 2018, Indian Naval commander Abhilash Tomy was rescued Monday by a French vessel, Osiris.

Tomy had suffered a serious back injury Friday after his yacht was damaged in a storm while representing India in the international solo circumnavigation Golden Globe Race (GGR) 2018.

The defence spokesperson in Mumbai confirmed Tomy was rescued by the French fishing vessel. The rescue team shifted Tomy from his indigenous vessel, S V Thuriya to the Osiris on a stretcher using their Gemini boat. He also said that they had a doctor on board who confirmed that Tomy was conscious and has been provided with initial medical care.

In a message via satellite phone on Friday, Tomy had asked for a stretcher as he was rendered immobile after a serious back injury and that he is safe on his vessel. Following the message to the GGR base in France, a massive multinational rescue operation was launched.

Initially, Tomy will be taken to Amsterdam Island in the Southern Indian Ocean, about 100 nautical miles north of the rescue position, by the end of the day from where the Indian naval stealth frigate INS Satpura is expected to pick him up by the end of this week.

“We shall get access to him in a hospital at Amsterdam Island following further course of action shall be decided,” said a spokesperson.

Following the rescue, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman tweeted: “A sense of relief to know that naval officer @abhilashtomy is rescued by the French fishing vessel. He’s conscious and doing okay. The vessel will shift him to a nearby island (I’lle Amsterdam) by evening. INS Satpura will take him to Mauritius for medical attention.”

Back home in Kerala, Tomy’s family, too, heaved a sigh of relief. “Praise the Lord. I am so happy…,” his father, V C Tomy, a retired Naval personnel himself, told mediapersons at his home in Udayamperoor in Thrippunithura near Kochi. “He may be physically weak but he will be mentally stable. He will come back. I have full confidence in him”, he said.

Commander Tomy’s boat Thuriya, was dismasted in extremely rough weather and sea conditions, with wind speeds of up to 130 kmph and 10-metre-high waves. The Kirti Chakra awardee was in the 3rd position, out of 11 international participants, and had sailed over 10,500 nautical miles in the last 84 days which started on July 1 from Les Sables-d’Olonne in France.

Later, tournament officials learnt that another participant at GGR, Gregor McGuckin boat ‘Biscay 36 Hanley Energy Endurance’ was also dismasted in the same storm. After rescuing Tomy, the Osiris went ahead to rescue the Ireland national.

“Happy to advise that Gregor MuGuckin is reported safe onboard the Orisis with Abhilash Tomy. Gregor was not in distress, but made the difficult decision to evacuate from the boat as the ship was on scene,” read an update on GGR’s website.

In order to rescue Tomy, who had sustained a back injury, Gregor was asked to head towards him on Saturday, however, owing to bad weather condition Osiris reached before him, said a source.

The spokesperson further said that while he was being rescued by the French vessel, an Indian Aircraft was continuously keeping a watch over the boat. He was stranded in the south Indian Ocean, approximately 1900 nautical miles from Perth, Australia and 2700 nm (approx 5020 kms on ground) from Cape Comorin (Kanyakumari), said Indian navy officials.

Following the alert about Tomy’s injury, the Indian Navy on Saturday dispatched INS Satpura with a Chetak helicopter and tanker INS Jyoti along with an aircraft P8i to rescue the commander.

On Saturday morning, the Indian Aircraft P8i operating from Mauritius sighted the indigenously-built vessel on which Tomy had set sail in July, at 7:50 am on Sunday.

— With PTI

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