The following is the text of a news release from the Automated Mutual Assistance Vessel Rescue System (AMVER):
(WASHINGTON) — The AMVER participating bulk carrier K. Coral rescued 19 fishermen after they abandoned their burning vessel approximately 900 miles southeast of Bermuda on Tuesday.
The Panamanian-flagged ship notified rescue personnel in Bermuda that the first officer spotted a large cloud of black smoke approximately four miles from their position. The master of K. Coral altered course and found a fishing vessel on fire with people in the water.
Bermuda rescue personnel notified the U.S. Coast Guard who activated the AMVER system and diverted two additional ships, Cherry Point and Jean LD, that assisted in the search for people in the water.
"While we were hoisting the 17 people onto our ship two people on a makeshift raft got separated from the group and drifted away," said the captain of K. Coral. K. Coral and Cherry Point continued searching for the two remaining survivors for six hours.
Lookouts onK. Coral spotted the last two people and hoisted the first survivor to safety but lost sight of the second person in the darkness and heavy rain. "The final survivor is clinging to some debris so we know he's alive and we won't give up," the captain of K. Coral reported to Coast Guard authorities.
"Search-and-rescue operations still going on at this time," the captain said. "We are having a hard time recovering the last person due to weather conditions. Wind still coming from the east but increasing to Force 5 with passing rain showers."
Two hours later the last survivor, the master of the fishing vessel, was aboard K. Coral. The crew of K. Coral reported two of the survivors suffered third-degree burns and were being treated in the ship's hospital. K. Coral is sailing toward Bermuda so a helicopter can meet the ship and evacuate the injured survivors.
K. Coral, managed by SK Shipping Company Ltd., enrolled in AMVER on Sept. 26, 2011 and has earned two AMVER participation awards. Cherry Point, managed by Pacific Basin Shipping of Hong Kong, enrolled in AMVER on July 18, 2003 and has earned one AMVER participation award. Jean LD, managed by Louis Dreyfus Armateurs SAS of France, enrolled in AMVER on June 30, 2005 and has earned 10 AMVER participation awards.