A Nigerian man has survived for two-and-a-half days trapped 30 meters deep in freezing seawater.
Harrison Okene, 29, was on board the tug boat Jascon-4 when it capsized in heavy swells…It sank to the seabed, upside down, but Mr Harrison was trapped in an air pocket and able to breathe.
Of the other 12 people on board, 10 bodies have already been found and Mr Harrison is assumed to be the only survivor.
Mr Harrison told Reuters journalist Joe Brock that he could hear fish eating the dead bodies of his fellow crew members.
The Jascon-4 capsized on 26 May, about 32km off the coast of Nigeria, while it was stabilising an oil tanker at a Chevron platform…Mr Harrison was working there as a cook, according to the ship’s owners, West African Ventures.
Mr Harrison told Reuters he was in the toilet when he realised that the boat was beginning to turn over, and as the vessel sank, he managed to find his way to an area with an air pocket.
“I was there in the water in total darkness just thinking it’s the end. I kept thinking the water was going to fill up the room but it did not,” he said…”I was so hungry but mostly so, so thirsty. The salt water took the skin off my tongue.”
“I could perceive the dead bodies of my crew were nearby. I could smell them. The fish came in and began eating the bodies. I could hear the sound.”
But after 60 hours, Mr Harrison heard the sound of knocking.
A team from the DCN global diving company had come to investigate – sent by Chevron and West African Ventures…”We expected it to be a body recovery job,” DCN spokesperson Jed Chamberlain told the BBC’s Impact programme.
Mr Harrison “actually grabbed the second diver who went past him,” Mr Chamberlain said, adding that the diver concerned got quite a fright…”This changed the whole nature of the operation to a rescue operation…”
Having been at such depth for so many hours, he needed time in a decompression chamber to normalise his body pressure.
Christine Cridge, a medical director at the Diving Diseases Research Centre (DDRC), advised the rescue team during this process…
“After a certain amount of time at pressure, nitrogen will dissolve into the tissues. If he’d ascended directly from 30m to the sea surface….. it’s likely he’d have had a cardiac arrest, or at best, serious neurological issues…
Mr. Harrison will have nightmares for quite a while. His good fortune still ain’t quite enough to counter everything he survived.
Come to think of it, that diver who was grabbed by Mr. Harrison probably won’t forget it either.