All 4 Korean crew members rescued from capsized vessel off U.S. coast

September 10, 2019

All four Korean crew members trapped inside a capsized vessel off the U.S. east coast have been rescued, the U.S. Coast Guard said.

News of Monday’s rescue came more than 30 hours after the Golden Ray cargo vessel flipped onto its side as it left the Port of Brunswick, Georgia, on Sunday.

Three were rescued first in “relatively good” condition and taken to a hospital for emergency medical care, Capt. John Reed of the Coast Guard said at a press briefing near the site of the incident.

The fourth was stuck behind glass in the engineering compartment but was also rescued shortly afterward, according to the Coast Guard.

“USCG and rescue crews have extracted the final #GoldenRay crew member safely. All crew members are accounted for. Operations will now shift fully to environmental protection, removing the vessel and resuming commerce,” it wrote in a tweet.

In Seoul, Cheong Wa Dae expressed its gratitude to the U.S. Coast Guard for the successful rescue operation.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in sent letters to U.S. President Donald Trump and U.S. Coast Guard chief Admiral Karl Schultz to thank them for their efforts to save the crew members, according to Cheong Wa Dae spokesperson Ko Min-jung.

Ko said Cheong Wa Dae officials had opened the day with such messages as “What luck!” and “What good news!”

Ko also thanked the rescued crew members for overcoming their fear in the isolated space and hanging in there for 41 hours.

“Thank you for returning to your families alive,” she said.

An investigation is underway to determine the exact cause of the incident. Twenty others were rescued Sunday.

Contact with the remaining four was made after rescuers drilled holes into the side of the ship to deliver supplies and send signals.

A ventilation system inside the ship also helped maintain air flow.

A South Korean official at the consulate general in Atlanta, Georgia, told Yonhap News Agency earlier that rescuers had received signals from the crew members at 20-30 minute intervals.

“I believe that even the U.S. Coast Guard didn’t suppose (the rescue operations) would make progress this fast. They were thinking that it could take quite long, at least by daybreak tomorrow,” Kim Young-joon, consul-general in Atlanta, told reporters.

Families of the rescued crewmen were expected to arrive in the U.S. on Tuesday and travel to the site.

The Koreans were presumed to be caught in the engine room of the car transport vessel belonging to Hyundai Glovis Co., a logistics unit of South Korea’s Hyundai Motor Group.

The 71,178-ton, Marshall Islands-flagged ship listed heavily in waters 12.6 kilometers away from the port.

The South Korean government sent a rapid response team consisting of eight people, including three from the foreign ministry in Seoul, to the site.