A severely injured Indian solo sailor is waiting to be rescued nearly 3,300km from the Australian coast.
Indian Navy officer Abhilash Tomy suffered a serious back injury on Saturday when his 10-metre boat, Thuriya, de-masted in extreme weather that saw 14-metre high waves during the Golden Globe Race.
Organisers of the Golden Globe Race posted Tomy’s latest distress message on Sunday, in which the Indian sailor complained of vomiting and chest pain.
“ACTIVATED EPIRB. CANT WALK. MIGHT NEED STRETCHER,” Tomy said in his first satellite text message on Saturday.
A subsequent message read: “CAN MOVE TOES. FEEL NUMB. CAN’T EAT OR DRINK. TOUGH 2 REACH GRAB BAG.”
India’s Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said the 39-year-old officer, who was spotted by an Indian aircraft early on Sunday, is likely to be rescued by a French vessel, although it may not reach him before Monday.
“The Rescue Mission is being coordinated with the Australian Navy. The injured officer shall be picked up in the next 16 hours by a French vessel Osiris,” Sitharaman posted on Twitter around 14:00 GMT on Sunday.
The Indian Navy said its vessel, along with another Australian frigate, was on its way to Tomy’s location, which, according to some reports, is “as far from help as you can possibly be”.
The Australian Defence Force said they are assisting in the rescue effort for Tomy, who became the first Indian to circumnavigate the globe in 2013.
Australian navy frigate HMAS Ballarat sailed from Perth on Saturday night for the yacht’s last known location, about 3,333km off the Western Australia coast, the Australian Defence Force said on Sunday.
The Australian navy ship will join the P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft belonging to the Australian air force deployed from the French La Reunion Island on the Indian Ocean in the search.
The Golden Globe Race, a gruelling 48,000km solo circumnavigation of the globe, began this year from France on July 1.
Tomy was in the third position and had sailed nearly 20,000km in the last 84 days.