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French sailor survives 16 hours under capsized boat off Spain

#French #sailor #survives #hours #capsized #boat #Spain

A 62-year-old French sailor was rescued in the Atlantic off Spain after surviving 16 hours in frigid water beneath his capsized sailboat by breathing through a shrinking air bubble.

Laurent Camprubi fired a flare after his boat, the Jeanne Solo Sailor, ran into trouble around 8:30 p.m. Monday when it was 14 miles (22 kilometers) from the Sisargas Islands off Spain’s northwestern region of Galicia, said the Spanish sea rescue service on Thursday in a statement.

A rescue ship and three helicopters were dispatched immediately and the search team found the boat overturned in the dark, it added.

In a video shared by the service, a rescuer can be seen being lowered onto the ship’s hull and crouching over it, apparently slapping it before listening for signs of life.

Camprubi started knocking from inside and screaming for help, but due to rough seas, rescuers had to stop the ship from sinking and wait until morning to get him to safety.

“I knew they were there, but I had to persevere. I thought of my wife, my children. I told myself that I would hold on for her. I couldn’t let her down,” he told AFP.

“When I heard the diver it was a great relief, but then there was a whole operation that took time because of the difficult conditions.”

The Spanish Sea Rescue Service described the operation to save Camprubi as “verging on the impossible”.

First rescuers attached buoys to the hull of the capsized vessel, and the following day two divers equipped with flashlights swam under the boat to search for Camprubi, the Coast Guard statement said.

When the divers spotted him, they held out a pole, which he immediately grabbed.

“He rushed towards us … we dragged him to the surface,” the statement said.

Coming to the surface, Camprubi said he hugged his rescuers before being flown to hospital in a helicopter for check-up.

“These are moments I will never forget,” he said.

– ‘My hours were numbered’ –

While Camprubi’s body temperature was only 34.5 degrees Celsius when he was rescued and he was severely dehydrated, he escaped unharmed.

He said his boat capsized in just a few seconds and then began to sink.

“The water gradually got in and the ship’s electronics ripped off,” Camprubi said.

“It was getting more and more dangerous to move around, so I crouched in a corner and waited, hoping help would come.”

Camprubi – a veteran sailor who has won several regattas – said he initially had an air pocket of about 80 centimeters that allowed him to breathe, but “that size was slowly shrinking”.

“I understand that my hours are numbered,” he added.

When Camprubi was brought to the surface around noon on Tuesday, the sea rescue service had “only 30 centimeters of air left”. It was said he spent 16 hours under the boat.

Juan Ferrer, head of rescue operations, said the wetsuit Camprubi was wearing kept him from getting hypothermia.

He also commended the French sailor for “calmly awaiting our arrival.”

Camprubi, who set sail from the Portuguese capital of Lisbon on Sunday morning, said he expected to be reunited with his wife and children in Spain on Thursday.

“I will keep sailing,” he said.

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#French #sailor #survives #hours #capsized #boat #Spain

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