DURBAN – A dramatic sea rescue has been carried out off the Durban coast on Tuesday to save the lives of 30 crew, who had abandoned their ship after it caught fire.
The Taiwanese fishing vessel, the Hsiang Fuh no 6 caught fire about 736km east-north-east from Durban, and some 496km from shore.
Crew on board a container ship, the Ever Diadem, spotted the burning vessel and her crew abandoning the ship on two lifeboats about 10km away from its position and alerted the Maritime Rescue Co-ordinating Centre in Cape Town.
The South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) swung into action to co-ordinate the rescue.
The co-ordinating centre asked the Ever Diadem to recover the survivors and an urgent Mayday message was relating to other ships in the area to help in the rescue.
“The bulk carriers, Hampton bay and SBI Antares, responded and arrived at the scene,” SAMSA said in a statement.
Hampton Bay was released and the SBI Antares helped the rescue and all the survivors were picked up, with 16 crew being lifted to safety by the Ever Diadem and 14 by the SBI Antares.
One crew member who had suffered burns was evacuated from the Ever Diadem 60km off Durban.
The air medical evacuation was done with the help of the South African Air Force and NetCare paramedics, with NSRI Durban providing surface support. The casualty was safety recovered and taken to hospital.
The two rescue ships are still on their way to Durban to disembark the rescued sailors (who come from the Philippines, Indonesia,Taiwan and Vietnam) and arrangements are being made to repatriate them to their countries once they arrive in Durban.
The Maritime Rescue Co-ordinating Centre has issued a warning about the abandoned and unmanned vessel which is still adrift.
“SAMSA commends the efforts of the Masters and crew of Ever Diadem and SBI Antares in saving the lives of the crew of the fishing vessel” its statement said