SAR helps in sea rescue

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 20 January, 2001, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 20 January, 2001, 12:00am

Hong Kong rescuers helped in an international effort to save a Japanese man from his sinking yacht in a 21-hour search-and-rescue operation.

The Hong Kong Maritime Rescue Co-ordination Centre and the Japanese and the US coastguards conducted a joint exercise to carry out the rescue, a marine officer said yesterday.

The man's seven-metre yacht, which was en route from Japan to the Philippines, sent out a distress signal at 4pm on Wednesday when it broke down and began to take in water about 355 nautical miles southeast of Hong Kong. Marine officer Hung Shun-leung, from the rescue centre, said that after liaising with Japan's coastguard, a plane was dispatched to search for the yacht.

Help was sought from the US coastguard in Honolulu, which in turn asked the US navy to dispatch an aircraft from Kadena, Japan, to join the operation at 5am on Thursday. About five hours later, the Japanese man and his yacht were located by the first plane.

'A dinghy was dropped to the man. He managed to climb into the dinghy as the powerful winds created 5.5-metre waves,' Mr Hung said. 'He was later picked up by a Panama-registered ship. He was in good shape - tired but uninjured.'