In a survival story for the history books, South African divers unexpectedly came to the aid of a Nigerian man who had survived nearly three days underwater in a sunken tug boat after it capsized back in May 2013.
Video footage of the rescue was not released until December 2013, but quickly went viral and made headlines worldwide.
A Shocking Survival
The man, Harrison Odjegba Okene, was one of 12 crew members aboard a tug boat that went down the morning of May 26, according to the Associated Press. The tug boat was one of three such tugs that was tasked with towing an oil tanker through Nigeria’s Delta waters, and Okene served as the ship’s cook, the AP explained. When the tug tipped, sank and filled with water, the 11 other crew members perished, but Okene survived by finding an air pocket within the wreckage.
There were many remarkable aspects to Okene’s survival. For example, Okene survived on a single can of Coke with no other food or water the entire time he was trapped, the AP noted. Beyond this, Okene was dressed only in a pair of boxer shorts, which offered little protection against the icy cold waters that encroached on him.
A Hand Reaching Out
Divers who were searching the sunken tug boat days later were expecting only to recover bodies from the sunken tugboat and were surprised when Okene’s hand reached out to them for help. The divers quickly provided him with water and an oxygen mask and used hot water to warm him, the AP noted. Okene was then placed in a decompression chamber and returned safely to the surface.
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