Abhilash Tomy's rescue communications devices were running out of charge
Naval officer Commander Abhilash Tomy, the only Indian to sail around the world non-stop was stranded in the Indian Ocean near Australia after being injured during a sailing race. He was rescued today by a French vessel, the Defence Ministry said on Sunday.
A French vessel Osiris rescued Commander Tomy from his location, the Defence Ministry said. Then an Australian Naval ship HMAS Ballarat, which has left Perth to bring him, will pick him up.
His rescue communications devices were running out of charge and he was barely responding to texts. The French vessel Osiris also faced hostile weather -- strong winds and eight-metre-high waves. The progress, however, was slow and steady that led to the rescue.
Here are the updates from Abhilash Tomy's rescue from the Indian Ocean:
"I Am So Happy": Abhilash's Father
Naval officer Abhilash Tomy's family says he will come back to adventure sport. "He may be physically weak but he will be mentally stable. He will come back. I have full confidence in him," news agency PTI quoted VC Tomy, a retired Naval personnel himself. "Praise the Lord. I am so happy...," he added.
President of India Ram Nath Kovind today appreciated France and Australia for helping in the rescue of Abhilash Tomy. "Relieved Indian Navy Commander Abhilash Tomy has been rescued from his location in the southern Indian Ocean. Appreciate our French and Australian friends for being part of the maritime effort to reach and assist this brave voyager. I wish him a speedy recovery," President Kovind tweeted.
"Sense Of Relief": Minister Nirmala Sitharaman On Rescue
Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has said that the rescue of Naval Officer Abhilash Tomy brought her a sense of relief. "A sense of relief to know that naval officer Abhilash Tomy is rescued by the French fishing vessel. He's concious and doing okay," she tweeted.
The first Indian to circumnavigate the globe in 2013, Commander Tomy was the only Indian participating in the race that involves a gruelling 30,000-mile solo circumnavigation of the globe. He was in third position in the race and has sailed over 10,500 nautical miles in the last 84 days, since the race started on July 1.
French fisheries boat Osiris sent a stretcher on a small boat. The boat was directed by an Indian Navy P-8 which was flying overhead. Rescuers entered hatch and put Mr Tomy on the stretcher and he is not being treated onboard the Osiris by a medic. Osiris would not commence rescue of Irish sailor Gregor McGuckin in the area. He is not distressed as of yet. Australian frigate is on its way to the area and will connect with the Osiris. Mr Tomy is "relieved" and is being treated.
Nirmala Sitharaman tweeted that Mr Tomy is "conscious and doing okay". She also said the vessel will shift him to the nearby island of I'lle Amsterdam by the evening. INS Satpura will take him to Mauritius for medical attention.
Navy spokesperson said Abhilash Tomy is safe and sound and is being carried out on a stretcher.
The Navy spokesperson tweeted:
Navy commander Abhilash Tomy rescued safely, tweeted the Navy Spokesperson.
Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had tweeted yesterday that Mr Tomy will be picked up in the next 16 hours.
"He will be picked up by French vessel Osiris shortly... Weather creating impediments," the defence spokesman said.
The French vessel Osiris, which is said to be at an hour's distance from the naval officer, is facing hostile weather -- strong winds and eight-metre-high waves. The Australian Maritime Safety Authority says that the mission is going to be a "difficult one". Progress is slow and steady. Irish sailor Gregor McGuckin, whose boat was also badly damaged in the storm, is also not very far from the officer.
Defence spokesperson while speaking to NDTV said, "Hope to get good window and favourable weather to get Tomy out."
Earlier, the race organisers said Mr Tomy had sent a message saying:
"Activated epirb. Cant walk. Might need stretcher"
A subsequent message read:
"Can move toes. Feel numb. Can't eat or drink. Tough 2 reach grab bag".
Yesterday P8i was launched from Port Louis Mauritius at 2am. It reported Thuriya, Mr Tomy's yacht, has a broken mast and was hanging from the side. P8 established visual contact successfully. The waves are around 10-12 feet with heavy clouding and rain in the area.
The P8s are flying from Mauritius at the limit of its range and endurance.
On Google Earth, the exact location can be zoomed in to by typing the following in the search engine - 39° 33.66 S, 078° 1.73 E
According to the Australian Maritime Safety Authority's search and rescue manager Alan Lloyd, the specialised vessel Osiris was to arrive in the location of Tomy's vessel at approximately mid afternoon Canberra time. The area, which could be "treacherous" during poor weather conditions, was known to cause damage to vessels similar to that suffered by Mr Tomy's yacht.
Mr Tomy's location was traced approximately 1,900 nautical miles from Perth, Australia and about 2,700 nautical miles from Cape Comorin.
Mr Tomy's latest communication sent today was:
"Lugged cans of ice tea. Having that.vomitting continuingly. Chest burning" Position: 39′ 33.512 S 077′ 41.608 E
Commander Abhilash Tomy is immobile and in the cabin of his tiny boat. Before the big evacuation, the French ship plans to send inflatable boats to the officer with first aid kit and water. Irish sailor Gregor McGuckin, whose boat was also badly damaged in the storm, is also not very far from the officer.
The 39-year-old yachtsman was lying in 3rd place in the Golden Globe Race when he and fellow competitor, Irishman Gregor McGuckin were overtaken by a 70 knot storm and 15 metre seas on Friday. Mr Tomy's ketch rigged yacht Thuriya, was rolled through 360° and dismasted and the skipper suffered a back injury that has left him immobile.
Navy Spokesperson tweeted a couple hours ago that Mr Tomy will be rescued in a few hours.
Abhilash Tomy is running out of charge on his rescue communications devices. Less than 5 % on his YB3i texting unit and less than 9 % on his YB3i online tracker. Tracker fully operational but he is not responding to texts (his battery may be too low to transmit).
His rescue is being monitored at Naval Headquarters in New Delhi, as well as by the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre at Melbourne, Australia.
Indian Navy's own ship INS Satpura is likely to arrive at his current location only by Friday, the Defence Ministry said.
The yacht in which Abhilash Tomy was participating in the Golden Globe Race, was located by an Indian Navy aircraft "rolling excessively" in the South Indian Ocean, a Defence spokesperson had said earlier in the day. The location in the south Indian Ocean was about 1,900 nautical miles from Perth in Australia.