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French vessel closer to location of injured Indian Navy Commander: Australian maritime authorities

French vessel closer to location of injured Indian Navy Commander: Australian maritime authoritiesMELBOURNE: Indian Naval officer Abhilash Tomy, who was badly injured while participating in the Golden Globe Race, will soon receive help from the French vessel Osiris which is closer to his location in the Indian Ocean, Australian maritime authorities said.

Tomy, representing India in the Golden Globe Race 2018 (GGR) on an indigenously built sailing vessel 'Thuriya', had suffered a back injury Friday after his yacht was hit by a vicious storm with 14-metre-high waves mid-way in the southern Indian Ocean.

His location was traced approximately 1,900 nautical miles from Perth, Australia and about 2,700 nautical miles from Cape Comorin.

According to the Australian Maritime Safety Authority's search and rescue manager Alan Lloyd, the specialised vessel Osiris was to arrive in the location of Tomy's vessel at approximately mid afternoon Canberra time.

According to the ABC report, Lloyd said there was still only limited information available about Tomy's condition, but help was getting closer.

"The French research vessel Osiris will arrive in the location of Tomy's vessel at approximately mid-afternoon Canberra time, probably about 2:00 PM West Australian time," he said.

The area, which could be "treacherous" during poor weather conditions, was known to cause damage to vessels similar to that suffered by Tomy's yacht, he said.

"This (French) vessel is actually purpose-built for working in the Southern Ocean and the conditions that you experience there.

"The crew themselves know the territory very well and in fact we've used the same vessel on other occasions, when we've had to provide assistance to yachtsman in distress in these areas," Lloyd said.

Earlier, the Race organisers said Tomy had sent a message saying "ACTIVATED EPIRB. CANT WALK. MIGHT NEED STRETCHER".

A subsequent message read "CAN MOVE TOES. FEEL NUMB. CAN'T EAT OR DRINK. TOUGH 2 REACH GRAB BAG".

Lloyd said there were concerns Tomy had suffered a spinal injury and his activity on board his vessel had been minimal, but said that would be assessed when the Osiris arrived.

"We then have to undertake a medical assessment of Tomy… depending upon that medical assessment, we will either remove him from the yacht or tow the yacht, most likely to Amsterdam which is about 180 kilometres away. Then we can get further medical assistance from a doctor who is at the research station there," he said.

Lloyd said the plans meant the rescue operation would take a number of days, with HMAS Ballarat — an Anzac-class frigate of the Royal Australian Navy — on its way to the area but not expected to arrive until Wednesday.

Australian Defence Force (ADF) had earlier said that HMAS Ballarat sailed from Perth on Saturday night for the 39-year-old's last known location.

The ship joins a P-8A Poseidon from the Adelaide-based Surveillance and Response Group (from the) Royal Australian Air Force, which has been deployed to La Reunion Island, France, to assist in the search," the ADF said in a statement.

"These ADF assets are well suited to undertake maritime search and rescue missions during times of extreme weather. Defence support is being provided following a request from the Australian Joint Rescue Coordination Centre," the statement added.

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