Survivors of Destroyed Ship Arrive in Maine
PORTLAND, Maine (AP) _ Soviet rescuers on Friday brought ashore 21 survivors of the wreck of a cargo ship, and the saved sailors said they felt ″very lucky″ to have lived through Hurricane Bertha.
The Corazon broke into pieces Tuesday in the Atlantic Ocean about 400 miles east of New York. Six of its crew died, and three of the bodies were left at sea, said Elizabeth Brannan, a Coast Guard spokeswoman from Boston.
The Soviet captain said his crew fought 30-foot waves and heavy winds to save the stricken sailors.
″What made the whole operation complicated was the wind and the height of the waves, as well as the rainstorms, very little visibility,″ said Vladimir Pushnoy, captain of the of the M-V Leonid Leonidov.
Crew members from the Corazon wore yellow vests that were hard to see in the foamy water, Pushnoy said at a news conference Friday.
After the rusty Soviet fishing boat docked in Portland Harbor Friday afternoon, the Corazon’s survivors, many of them from Greece and the Philippines, stood on the deck and told their story to reporters.
″We are very lucky,″ said Pantelis Potiris, of Greece, the Corazon’s cook. ″It was very bad, very rough.″
One survivor gave a thumbs up sign and said ″the Russians are good.″
An apprentice officer, Rolando Arellano, of Manila, Philippines, said he spent four to six hours floating in the water after his life raft capsized. One of his countrymen died trying to get off the Corazon, he said.
″When I jumped in the life raft, I found one Filipino floating,″ Arellano said. ″He hit the ship’s hull.″
The dead included a first officer, a second officer, an assistant officer and a radio man aboard the ship.
″I hope only to stay alive,″ Arellano said. ″I always pray to God. We are thinking of our family and to save ourselves.″
Arellano said he would return to the sea because it is the only life he knows.
After the Corazon sent out a distress signal Tuesday afternoon, the U.S. and Canadian coast guards helped Leonid Leonidov and other ships find the survivors.
Two other ships in the area got close to Corazon crew members, but couldn’t get them aboard.
Pushnoy said his fishing support ship was able to pull off the rescue because his 46-member crew is used to working in open sea and tying up with other vessels. The last man rescued had been in the water 10 hours, he said.
The Leonid Leonidov had been headed for the Gulf of Maine to pick up fish being processed by another Soviet vessel, the Riga, which is spending the summer off the Maine coast.
The Corazon, a 593-foot freighter that was registered in Malta, had been carrying tons of cement from Greece to New York.