helicopter ocean rescue IDF 248.88.
(photo credit: IDF)
A group of Ukrainian sailors rescued by IAF search and rescue troops after their ship sank off the coast of Cyprus Friday night made a full recovery in Haifa's Rambam Hospital and were released Sunday morning.
Ihor Thurchyn, head of the Ukrainian Consulate in Haifa, told The Jerusalem Post the five men were in good condition after their release and were to be flown back to the Ukraine on Monday morning.
A sixth rescued sailor was evacuated to a Beirut hospital.
In a dramatic video released by the IDF spokesperson's office on Sunday, the IAF helicopter crew is seen circling around an area of the Mediterranean Sea close to where the Salla 2 went under. At one point, a voice is heard yelling, "We found one," after one of the sailors was spotted in the water.
The first surviving crew member was initially spotted by a Cypriot helicopter, an IAF officer said Sunday. "After we received the report we dispatched helicopters to the area and located the lone survivor," the officer said.
Members of the IAF's elite 669 search and rescue team rappelled down into the water and pulled the sailor up into the helicopter. Another IAF chopper later rescued four more survivors.
The officer praised the cooperation between the IAF and the Navy as well as the coordination between the IDF and other militaries - such as that of Cyprus and UNIFIL - that were involved in the rescue operation.
On Sunday, the IAF and the Navy continued searching for the remaining seven members of the Salla 2, which was en route to Israel when it sank overnight Friday.
Outside of Haifa's Rambam Hospital on Sunday morning, rescued sailor Andre Karas told reporters that in the moments before the sailors abandoned ship, seawater had risen to a point where they could no longer stand and the sailors held onto him in order to keep from drowning.
Karas and his fellow sailors thanked the IDF rescue unit for saving their lives, praising its professionalism and that of the doctors who treated them upon their arrival in Israel.
One of the five sailors who was evacuated to Israel had apparently spent the last 24 hours in the water, with only a life belt to prevent him from drowning.
Dr. Shlomi Israeli, head of the emergency room at the Rambam Medical Center, told Army Radio that the sailor was in moderate condition and was suffering from extreme fatigue and a low body temperature.
On Sunday night, a Cypriot rescue team located the body of another sailor. The body was transferred to the Rambam Medical Center in Haifa for identification.
Police and Navy forces continued searching for the remaining six seamen.
It was not clear what caused the ship, carrying a cargo of raw material used in the production of bricks, to sink.
Jerusalem Post staff contributed to this report.