SAVANNAH, Ga. — Four crew members trapped in the bowels of an overturned cargo ship waited for nearly 36 hours in pitch darkness and oven-like heat, perched on pipes and railings above deep water before they were pulled to safety, rescue coordinators said Tuesday.
The South Korean sailors emerged Monday from a hole drilled through the steel-plated hull of the Golden Ray, which flipped onto its side along the Georgia coast. Three of them were found in the engine room after making tapping sounds all night to show they were alive, and to help rescuers pinpoint their location inside the massive vessel. The fourth had to be rescued from a partially submerged control room, trapped behind blast-proof glass that had to be cut with a diamond-tipped tool.
“These guys were in the worst possible conditions you could imagine a human being to be in,” said Tim Ferris, president of the salvage company Defiant Marine, which the U.S. Coast Guard called in to help plan and conduct the rescues. “They survived a ship’s fire, a ship capsizing, landing on the side 90-degrees in an engine room, not knowing what the conditions were in pitch black darkness.”