Chinese woman falls overboard and spends 38 hours at sea without life jacket before rescue

Strong swimmer somehow managed to tread water while dozing

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 14 August, 2016, 11:14pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 14 August, 2016, 11:14pm

A Chinese tourist fell overboard from a cruise ship and spent 38 hours at sea without a life jacket before being rescued by fishermen in waters south of Shanghai, mainland media reported.

The 32-year-old woman, identified only by her surname Fan, was taking a five-day cruise on Royal Caribbean from the Chinese financial centre to South Korea and Japan.

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On Wednesday night, she was leaning on a deck rail sightseeing when she fell, according to She called for help but no one was around at such a late hour. Fan later told police that she was a good swimmer and had graduated from a sports university. Whenever large ships approached, she swam away to avoid getting pulled under by their wake.

She eventually became exhausted and dozed lightly while slowly moving her arms back and forth to stop her from sinking, the report cited police as saying.

When she awoke in the morning, she spotted a fishing vessel and swam towards it. The crew found her off Zhoushan in Zhejiang province at about 11am on Friday, according to police. She took another fishing vessel back to a port on Saturday morning, according to the report.

Fan was taken to a local hospital and was in good condition except for some blisters on her arms caused by jellyfish stings.

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Her father told the police that after she went missing, he checked the ship’s surveillance video, but it only showed her walking back and forth on the deck. The cruise ship staff had carried out a search on Wednesday and contacted local authorities the next day.

The coastguard said the woman was lucky to have even survived the initial fall, which they compared to jumping off the seventh storey of a building.