'CAN'T WALK. FEEL NUMB': Rescue Effort Underway For Solo Sailor Seriously Injured In Storm
The Australian Defence Force has joined the urgent rescue mission to find a seriously injured solo Indian sailor who's sent desperate distress messages from his stricken vessel in the southern Indian Ocean.
The force is searching about 1800 nautical miles off the Western Australia coast to find the naval officer who was competing in the Golden Globe Race.
He struck trouble on Saturday when his 10m vessel "Thuriya" demasted during extreme weather causing him a serious back injury, the ADF said on Sunday.
Solo skipper Abhilash Tomy sent his first satellite text message on Saturday, saying: "ACTIVATED EPIRB. CANT WALK. MIGHT NEED STRETCHER", Golden Globe Race organisers said in a statement.
A subsequent message read: "CAN MOVE TOES. FEEL NUMB. CAN'T EAT OR DRINK. TOUGH 2 REACH GRAB BAG".
The Royal Australian Navy Frigate, HMAS Ballarat, sailed from Perth about 6pm local time on Saturday to the yacht's last known location. It joined another vessel from the Royal Australian Air Force sent to La Reunion Island in France to help in the search.
Race organisers had said an executive jet from Perth could reach the area of Tomy's yacht, about 3000km southwest of the city, around mid-morning on Sunday.
The crew would try to make radio contact with the 39-year-old and assess the damage.
The Australian Maritime Safety Authority is co-ordinating the rescue, after Tomy's yacht was damaged in a storm during the round-the-world race. An AMSA spokesman told AAP they'd arranged for a nearby French fisheries patrol vessel to go to the scene.
An Indian Navy stealth frigate, operating in the Indian Ocean, has also been diverted for the rescue mission along with an Indian tanker and military plane, according to race organisers.
Other racing yachts may be able to check on the yacht in the meantime. Tomy was the first Indian to circumnavigate the globe in 2013, his website says.
Lead image: ADF handout via AAP