Crewman Survives 2 Days in Underwater Shipwreck

Cook found an air pocket and hung on til help came

By John Johnson,  Newser Staff

Posted Jun 12, 2013 4:08 PM CDT

(Newser) Reuters has an amazing tale of survival from Nigeria, where the cook on a tugboat spent 60 hours trapped underwater in the sunken vessel and lived to explain how. Harrison Okene managed to find a 4-foot-high pocket of air after getting trapped in a toilet and its adjoining bedroom when the boat went down in stormy seas off the coast. He kept his head above water until stunned divers found him as they were searching for bodies—10 of Okene's crewmates drowned and another remains missing.

"I heard a sound of a hammer hitting the vessel," the 29-year-old recalls. "Boom, boom, boom. I swam down and found a water dispenser. I pulled the water filter and I hammered the side of the vessel hoping someone would hear me." They did. The salt water did a number on his skin, but Okene is otherwise OK after spending another 60 hours in a decompression chamber. He's not rushing back to the sea, however.

  (Shutterstock)
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I was there in the water in total darkness just thinking it's the end. I kept thinking the water was going to fill up the room but it did not. - Harrison Okene, shipwreck survivor

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