The Australian navy has joined an international mission to rescue an Indian sailor who seriously injured his back when his yacht was damaged in a storm off Western Australia during a round-the-world race.
The solo skipper Abhilash Tomy sent a satellite text message that was received on Saturday, saying, “ACTIVATED EPIRB. CANT WALK. MIGHT NEED STRETCHER”, Golden Globe Race organisers said.
A subsequent message read: “CAN MOVE TOES. FEEL NUMB. CAN’T EAT OR DRINK. TOUGH 2 REACH GRAB BAG.”
The Australian Maritime Safety Authority, which is coordinating the rescue after Tomy’s 10-metre vessel was dismasted, said the yacht was about 3,500km west of Perth “in remote seas and in bad weather”.
The stricken vessel was spotted at the weekend by a number of planes that have been deployed to assist in the rescue effort, the authority confirmed.
“Having initially communicated with race officials via his text message from his tracker, the yachtsman activated his distress beacon at midday Saturday AEST to help rescuers locate him,” the authority said on Monday.
“Amsa has tasked a French fisheries patrol vessel, FPV Osiris to respond, which is expected to arrive on scene later today. Royal Australian Navy vessel HMAS Ballarat has also been tasked, but will take several days to reach the stricken yacht.
“Amsa has also tasked a Royal Australian Air Force P-8A Poseidon aircraft and a civilian Global Express aircraft from Australia. The Indian armed forces are supporting the search with an additional P-8 aircraft.”
HMAS Ballarat left Perth on Saturday night, joining the Adelaide-based P-8A Poseidon, which was deployed to France’s Réunion island to help with the search, the Australian Defence Force said.
“These ADF assets are well suited to undertake maritime search-and-rescue missions during times of extreme weather,” it said.
Tomy became the first Indian to circumnavigate the globe in 2013, according to his website.