Lucky save for White Sea ‘Robinson Crusoe’

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An Mi-8 helicopter from the Archangelsk branch of the Russian Ministry of Emergency Situations (EMERCOM) recently took off and headed for Vaskovo Kem in search of a monk and a monastery worker who went missing after their boat, the Albatross, sank off Solovki Archipelago in the White Sea. Shortly into the flight, the rescue crew was informed that the body of the monk had been found by a passing fisherman. In the hope of finding the 27-year-old staff member, the crew began to search the many small, barren, uninhabited islands in the area. As the planned search pattern was almost completed, one of the rescuers spotted a man on an islet named Little Sennuha.

The helicopter landed and the rescuers helped the man onboard. To their surprise, the man, named Sergei, told them that he had been on the island since 1 October and had no connection with the Albatross. He had set out intending to harvest kelp, but was hit by a storm and his boat sprang a leak. He managed to swim to a nearby island where he survived for 16 days by eating seaweed and drinking rainwater. He built a make-shift shelter from boulders and planks. Although he began by watching for passing vessels, his hope faded. For the three days before his rescue, he did not leave his shelter, and had finally resolved to take his own life. Thankfully, he heard the helicopter and emerged from his shelter to be spotted by the crew.

EMERCOM noted that the rescue was a case of sheer good luck, as Sergei had not been reported missing, and the crew was only airborne due to the misfortune of the Albatross.

The man was flown to hospital to undergo treatment for hypothermia and exhaustion. The search continues for the monastery worker lost from the Albatross.

For a video of the rescue, click here.

 

Image: The man onboard the EMERCOM Mi-8, courtesy EMERCOM

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