December 9, 2004

USCG rescue helicopter crashes

The Coast Guard has been conducting aærescue effortænear Unalaska Island in the Aleutian Island chain for 10 people who were aboard a Coast Guard helicopter.

The helicopter and crewæbased out of Kodiak, Alaska, were evacuating crewmembers off the grounded freighter Selendang Ayu when it crashed in the ocean during the rescue attempt.

Another helicopter from the Coast Guard cutter Alex Haley, which is on scene, picked up four peopleæ and has taken them to Dutch Harbor for medical treatmen Six people are still unaccounted for.

The Selendang Ayu subsequently brokein twoæand a Coast Guard rescue swimmer along with the master of the vessel remained on board.

The ship, which was carrying about 500,000 gallons of No. 6 fuel oil, had been drifting towards the island since experiencing an engine failure earlier this week.

A Coast Guard cutter and three tug boats had been unable to halt the motor vessel's approach to the northern shore of Unalaska Island.

Late Tuesday night the tug Sydney Foss successfully established a tow on the Selendang Ayu. The tug slowed the progress of the Selendang Ayu's drifting to one nautical mile an hour, however the 8-inch think tow-line broke at 1:30 a.m. An earlier attempt to take the Selendang Ayu in tow was also unsuccessful.

The Malaysian-flag Selendang Ayu is operated by IMC Shipping of Singapore and was built in Hudong, China, in 1998.

The Coast Guard has set up an incident website at : http://www.piersystem.com/external/index.cfm?cid=912&clientID=2404121

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