US Navy chopper rescues tsunami aid workers from striken fishing vessel off Solomons
The chopper winched up Red Cross, other medical staff and two injured tsunami victims after the ship hit the reef on Thursday night off the island town of Gizo.
An injured crew member was airlifted to a regional hospital at Munda. The helicopter is from a US navy ship which is in Munda to assist the tsunami relief program.
Around 16 medical workers and the two elderly injured tsunami victims were landed at a playing field in Gizo where they were checked over by an Australian Army medical team, also in Gizo to assist tsunami victims.
Solomons police and Australian police serving with the Regional Assistance Mission in the country helped coordinate the rescue.
The ship's captain said he and his crew of around 12 would stay with the ship. The rescue was initiated because of fears the vessel would capsize, police said.
It was taking on water with waves crashing over the stern. One of the medical team winched off, New Zealand trauma therapy worker Allison Axford, said there were crunching noises on impact but the captain at first seemed to do nothing.
"I think he couldn't believe we were on the reef. Then there was a lot of yelling and screaming."
Axford said the crewman was injured after falling from a dinghy that capsized after it was sent from the ship to try to take a line to another vessel. The two men from the dingy were hauled back aboard after lines were thrown to them.
"It wasn't looking good. The boat capsized. We didn't know if they were trapped beneath it, Axford said.
The stricken vessel, which fished in the region's waters, had been diverted by its owners to deliver relief supplies to tsunami victims.