- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 12, 2013

A cook spent nearly three days trapped inside a sunken tugboat 100 feet underwater off Nigeria, before being rescued.

Eleven Nigerians and a Ukrainian captain were onboard the AHT Jascon 4 – an oil service tugboat working for Chevron – when it sank on May 26.

Harrison Okene was the only survivor, the Nigerian newspaper The Nation reported.

The exact cause of the the ship sinking has not been determined, but Chevron’s General Manager in charge of Policy, Government and Public Affairs, Mr. Deji Haastrup, said an initial report indicated the accident was caused by a “sudden ocean swell,” The Nation reported.

“I made my way out of the toilet, groped through the dark into a place I imagined was the officers’ restroom,” Mr. Okene told The Nation. “I wasn’t seeing [anything], I was just feeling my way with my hands.”

Mr. Okene happened upon an air pocket, where he stayed afloat on two mattresses for more than 60 hours.

“When I was tired, I started calling on the name of God,” Mr. Okene said. “I was just calling on His name for divine intervention. I started reminiscing on the verses I read before I slept.”

After hearing divers and failing to get their attention by banging a hammer against the walls, the courageous seaman decided to make a break for survival.

When he heard movement outside the boat a second time, Mr. Okene jumped into the icy waters and went in search for his rescuer, a South African identified simply as Nico.

“My hands and feet were very white,” Mr. Okene told The Nation. “When I located him, I was the one who touched the diver, I touched his head and he was shocked. He was searching and I just saw the light, so I jumped into the water. As he was shocked, he stretched out his hands. I touched him.”

He said he heard voices from the diver’s speaker shouting “there is a survivor, he is alive.”

The Nigerian had to spend several hours in a decompression chamber, but was restored back to full health.

“I will just attribute everything to the grace of God,” his wife, Akpos, told The Nation.

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