Rescuers pulled all four crew members to safety on Monday from an overturned cargo ship off the Georgia coast.
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. Crews later saved the fourth man in the vessel’s control room at the back end of the ship, the Coast Guard tweeted.
All four are reportedly in good condition and were taken to a hospital for examinations. 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.”
South Korea’s Foreign Ministry said its government sent its own rapid response team to the scene.
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The Golden Ray, loaded with thousands of vehicles, listed and tumbled in St. Simons Sound shortly after leaving Brunswick, Georgia, on Sunday bound for Baltimore. Twenty people were quickly rescued.
Ship owner Hyundai Glovis, based in South Korea, said the rescued crew included six Koreans, 13 Philippine nationals and an American harbor pilot. The company thanked rescue crews in a statement Monday evening, saying they “deeply appreciated” the successful effort.
The ship’s command and chief engineer assisted authorities and salvage teams in stabilizing the ship, so rescue efforts could continue, the Coast Guard said. First responders and towing groups aided the effort.
The cause of the incident was under investigation. It was not clear whether weather conditions played a role. Hurricane Dorian brushed past the Georgia coast last week but was gone Sunday.
The port of Brunswick was closed to boat traffic, and a safety zone was established in the sound. Ships were not authorized within a half-mile of the Golden Ray.
The Coast Guard has begun working to resume commerce while safely removing the vessel and limiting damage to the environment, the agency said in a statement.
The incident comes one week after a diving boat caught fire off California’s Santa Cruz Island, killing 34 people.
Contributing: The Associated Press; Kristin Lam, USA TODAY
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