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Indian sailors spent three hours in cold before being rescued

February 02, 2008 17:26 IST

All the 17 Indian sailors, who survived the capsize of their cargo ship off the Bahrain coast, spent almost three hours in a life raft in extreme cold before being plucked to safety in a dramatic rescue operation by a police helicopter.

The ship Siddnath, loaded with rice from the United Arab Emirates, was heading to Iraq when it capsized on Friday morning, but no one was injured in the incident despite the waves rising as high as 10 feet and winds having a speed of 31 knots.

"The life raft kept moving, so it wasn't easy for the pilot or the crew. Usually in these conditions we don't fly, but because of the lives at stake we took the risk. Due to rough seas and strong winds, the operation wasn't easy for our crew," Police Aviation Commander Lieutenant Colonel Waleed Al Dossary was quoted as saying in the local media.

A helicopter took about 20 minute each to remove the sailors to safety.

Earlier, Indian Ambassador to Bahrain Balakrishna Shetty, told PTI over phone from Manama that the sailors were taken to the Salamaniyah Hospital in the Bahraini capital, where they were given first aid and later discharged.

The Interior Ministry, which was informed of the incident by the UAE shipping agent, immediately swung into action. Police aviation made two trips to rescue the crew, first saving seven sailors and then the remaining 10, said Lieutenant Colonel Al Dossary.

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