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Press Release

Risking their own lives to save others: lessons for all

Athens, 23 October 2008 - Τhe volunteer members of HELMEPA, the Hellenic Marine Environment Protection Association, Greek seafarers and shipowners, would like to congratulate all parties involved in the dramatic rescue of the crew of cargo ship FEDRA, grounded off the cliffs of Europa Point in Gibraltar on 10 October 2008. This incident encapsulates the spirit of synergy amongst people that HELMEPA has been preaching since its inception in 1982.

LloydТs List reports that a vicious storm with winds up to 180 km per hour made impossible the towing of the 63,940 dwt ship FEDRA, facing engine failure and crashed on the cliffs of Gibraltar. Having airlifted 5 of the seafarers, the rescue helicopter made an emergency landing due to seawater entering its rotor turbines, thus aborting the operation.

In the face of disaster, land-based rescuers from Gibraltar and Spain mounted a desperate rescue attempt in risk of their own lives. A large crane was positioned on the edge of the cliff and with the use of a cage the remaining seafarers were lifted from the bow of the grounded ship. Policemen, firemen, military personnel and volunteering civilians took part in this extremely dangerous operation.

Such humane efforts to save the lives of helpless crew members (i) demonstrate to seafarers that land-based communities are not there to point the finger at them for marine pollution but to support them in the hour of need, (ii) make the wider public aware of the huge difficulties and risks seafarers face on a daily basis in all oceans while serving global commerce and (iii) invite politicians and regulators to re-visit issues like criminalization.

This is an opportunity for HELMEPA to highlight the effective role of rescuers in Greece working in cooperation with the Joint Coordination Center for Search and Rescue of the Ministry of Mercantile Marine. Only in the period June-September 2008 they have responded to 499 SAR incidents in Greek waters saving 2,691 lives, often in extremely adverse weather conditions and in danger of their own lives.

We thank you all.


2008-10-24

Please see HELMEPA (Hellenic Marine Environment Protection Association) company electronic office

Costas Triantafillou, Project Manager
(+30) 210 934 3088
ctriantafillou@helmepa.gr

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