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French boat to rescue injured Indian sailor from yacht

French boat to rescue injured Indian sailor from yacht

This photo provided by Indian Navy shows the yacht Thuriya of Indian Abhilash Tomy in the Indian Ocean Monday, Sept. 24, 2018. A French ship was expected to rescue the Indian sailor on Monday who was injured in the remote southern Indian Ocean during a round-the-world solo yacht race, an official said. (Indian Navy via AP) (Associated Press)

CANBERRA, Australia — A French ship on Monday was expected to rescue an Indian sailor who was injured in the remote southern Indian Ocean during a round-the-world solo yacht race, an official said.

The fisheries patrol boat Osiris has been heading the 740 kilometers (460 miles) to Abhilash Tomy since his yacht, Thuriya, lost its mast in a storm on Friday, said Australian Maritime Safety Authority search and rescue officer Phil Gaden.

The yacht is in Australia’s search and rescue zone 3,500 kilometers (2,200 miles) southwest of the Australian city of Perth and 3,000 kilometers southeast of the French island of Reunion, Gaden said.

The rescue could be treacherous because the yacht was badly damaged and Tomy had an injured back, he said.

“It’s going to be a very difficult situation onboard,” Gaden told reporters. “The yacht is severely damaged with gear hanging over the side.”

“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.

Conditions were reasonably good for the area, with a southwesterly wind blowing at up to 46 kph (29 mph) and a 3-meter (10-foot) swell, Gaden said.

“It’s one of the most remote areas on the planet, almost equidistant from any of the search and rescue facilities,” he said.

“At the moment, our indications are that it is upright and floating high in the water, however at any moment a wave could push one of the damaged masts into the vessel and compromise its integrity,” he added.

Tomy, a 39-year-old Indian navy commander, was keeping in contact with rescue authorities through texts, but batteries on his two devices were running low, Gaden said.

The French crew plans to take Tomy to a French research facility on Amsterdam Island, 100 kilometers (60 miles) to the north. There is a doctor and small hospital on the island, Gaden said.

The Australian navy frigate HMAS Ballarat left the Australian port of Fremantle on Saturday and was expected to reach Amsterdam Island on Friday, Gaden said. The Ballarat will then take Tomy to Fremantle for hospital treatment.

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.

Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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