Stranded rower rescued from Indian Ocean

Dutch adventurer rowing from Australia to Africa rescued after mid-ocean collision with passing oil tanker.

Last Modified: 31 May 2013 05:59
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A Myanmar-flagged merchant vessel only hours away responded to Tuijn's distress signal [File/YouTube]

A Dutch adventurer rowing from Australia to Africa was rescued from the Indian Ocean after he was injured in a close-call with a passing oil tanker, Australian authorities said.

Ralph Tuijn, 36, was well into his 9,000-kilometre, 120-day journey from Western Australia when his boat was reportedly swamped on Wednesday.

Tuijn noticed the tanker when it was only 300 metres away from his boat, which did not give him enough time to row to safety.

The huge wakes made the rowing boat tumble before it was smashed against the side of the tanker and sucked into its slipstream.

The rescue mission was triggered early on Friday when Tuijn activated his distress beacon from the wreckage of his boat and a Myanmar-flagged merchant vessel nearby was sent to the scene, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) said.

"We have recovered him, he is currently on board the merchant vessel," an AMSA spokeswoman told AFP news agency.

"The master reported that he was injured but we're not sure of the full extent of his injuries just yet."

'Extremely lucky'

The spokeswoman said Tuijn's injuries were not thought to be serious, but he had previously reported that he thought he had some broken ribs.

Tuijn was picked up by a merchant vessel about 1,100 nautical miles west of the Cocos Islands [Al Jazeera]

She said he was extremely lucky to have been picked up so soon from his remote location in the middle of the ocean, about 1,100 nautical miles west of the Cocos Islands.

"It's a pretty well-travelled stretch of water, but often merchant vessels can be three or four days away and this one was only a couple of hours away," she said.

"He was about a week from Australia by merchant vessel, by row boat he is probably about a month from Australia."

A friend of Tuijn, Geoff Charters, told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation that the adventurer would bounce back from the experience.

"He's a very experienced ocean rower and has dealt with a lot of different dangers on the ocean including lightning storms... I think that was the worst," Charters said.

"He's been attacked by sharks and had close encounters with tankers on the Pacific."


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