A 30-year-old man was recovering last night after being plucked from the sea southeast of Hong Kong in a rescue that was described as 'like finding a needle in the sea'. Tong Man-lung spent eight hours in the water after being swept away while on a fishing trip with a friend on Dangan Dao, a remote island in mainland waters 20km from Hong Kong. He was saved by a Government Flying Service helicopter about 2pm about 9km northeast of the island and flown to Pamela Youde Nethersole Hospital where he was reported to be in stable condition last night. Pilot Burnet Shek said the rescue was very difficult. 'It was like finding a needle in the sea,' he said. Mr Shek said the force was delighted by the success of the rescue. 'The chance of a successful rescue is very rare in this kind of accident. Luckily, the man was wearing a life jacket, the weather was fine and the Hong Kong Maritime Rescue Co-ordination Centre made a very accurate estimation on his whereabouts.' Mr Tong and his friend went to the island by speedboat shortly before dawn yesterday and were planning to spend the day fishing when Mr Tong fell into the water at about 6am and was quickly washed away to the east. After desperate attempts to get through on his mobile phone from the remote location his friend, surnamed Ho, finally alerted rescuers on the 999 emergency number shortly before 11am. Earlier, he had enlisted the help of a mainland fishing boat to search, but without success. Two government helicopters arrived at the scene shortly before 11.30am and found Mr Tong after searching for more than two hours.