JEKYLL ISLAND, Ga. — The head of a company whose salvage workers rescued four crew members from a capsized ship off the Georgia coast says the men survived “hellish conditions” perched on pipes and plumbing above deep water in pitch darkness and oven-like temperatures.
Tim Ferris of the salvage firm Defiant Marine told The Associated Press on Tuesday the South Korean sailors “were being cooked” in the engine room of the overturned cargo ship Golden Ray with temperatures reaching 150 degrees (65.5 Celsius). He said rescuers had to stuff their own pockets with bags of ice to withstand the heat.
Ferris says the most daunting rescue was a crewman trapped in a control room with the door underwater. He was behind blast-proof glass designed to withstand an explosion. Rescuers had to use a diamond-tipped cutter to create an opening.
Ferris called it “a rescue of a lifetime.
One of the rescue coordinators says the men are “doing well” after being trapped aboard the ship for more than a day.
Salvage expert Sylvia Tervoort was part of a private team that assisted the Coast Guard in the rescues Monday of the South Korean crew members still aboard the Golden Ray. She told ABC’s “Good Morning America” on Tuesday: “They were really exhausted when they came out.”
Tervoort said the men waited roughly 30 hours for rescue in tough conditions — in the dark, breathing air filled with fumes in the ship’s engine room, in sweltering temperatures of nearly 150 degrees.
The Golden Ray rolled onto its side early Sunday after leaving the Port of Brunswick loaded with more than 4,000 vehicles. Coast Guard Petty Officer 1st Class Luke Clayton says removing the ship will likely take weeks. The port remains closed.
Coast Guard rescuers pulled the four crew members from the Golden Ray on Monday after drilling through the hull’s steel plates.
Altamaha Riverkeeper, a group that works to protect water in the area from pollution, posted on Facebook that it will keep monitoring the salvage operations.