22 Marooned Sailors Rescued
TOKYO (AP) _ A French ship rescued 22 sailors from a remote, storm-lashed island in the Indian Ocean on Wednesday, 11 days after their tuna trawler ran aground and stranded them in frigid winter weather.
The crew of the Japanese ship survived with food, blankets and tents dropped by an Australian air force plane that flew 2,200 miles from Mauritius, the nearest landing strip.
The rescued sailors _ 15 Japanese, six Indonesians and a South African _ were ``healthy and in good condition,″ said Uta Enomoto of Japan’s Maritime Safety Agency.
Their boat, the Japanese Zuiho Maru No. 58, ran aground July 22 off St. Paul, a blown-out volcanic outcropping. They abandoned ship on July 27 when it showed signs of breaking up, and took refuge on the 2 1/2-square-mile island.
The men found shelter in a hut on the leeward side of the island, and the Australian plane also dropped protective clothing to fight potential hypothermia from the gales of the Southern Hemisphere winter.
Enomoto said the rescued crew would be taken to Amsterdam Island, near St. Paul, by the French research ship La Curieuse for medical examinations. Then Japanese ships were to take them to Mauritius.
Although St. Paul is a French possession, it lies within Australia’s area of responsibility for rescues at sea.