Rescuers Free Three Crew Members from Capsized Cargo Ship Off Georgia Coast; Fourth Man Still Trapped

Coast Guard crews and port partners respond to an overturned cargo vessel with a fire on board on Sept. 8, 2019, in St. Simons Sound, Ga. (Photo: U.S. Coast Guard via AP)

Rescuers searching an overturned cargo ship off the Georgia coast Monday pulled three crew members to safety and worked on rescuing the remaining one.

The three South Koreans were plucked from a room in the hull near the ship’s propeller, said Coast Guard Lt. Lloyd Heflin, who’s coordinating the rescue. The fourth man is trapped behind glass in the ship’s engineering compartment.

The rescues capped a day of hope when it was learned the four were alive.

Rescue efforts were frustrated Sunday because of a fire on the unstable boat, Petty Officer Luke Clayton said. Monday, the ship was stabilized and the fire doused. A helicopter landed on the side of the ship, and a rescue team was back at work, Clayton said.

“They were able to drill a small hole in the hull,” Clayton told USA TODAY. “They located all four of the missing crew members.”

Clayton said the team drilled a bigger hole to provide the trapped crew members with fresh air, food and water. A larger hole was then cut to extricate the crew. The effort was slowed because normal torches weren’t used because of fear of sparking another fire, he said.

“@USCG  and salvage crews are developing an extraction plan to safely rescue the 4 #GoldenRay crew members,” the Coast Guard tweeted. “This is a slow, but safe process.”

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SOURCE: USA Today, John Bacon