Nineteen people have been rescued from a Danish cargo ship, foundering on a coral reef off the coast of Mozambique.
AERIAL VIEW Danish freighter Pep Ice aground on reef off Mozambique seen through open hatchway of helicopter hovering above
GV PAN South African Air Force helicopter hovering above with rope being lowered and two crew members hauled aloft (2 shots)
GV PAN Another two crew members winched up to helicopter hatchway
SV Deck of stricken freighter with orange coloured dinghy
AERIAL V TILT DOWN Deck of tanker seen through hatchway of helicopter and two crewmembers are brought aboard
SV Helicopter pilot at controls and two crew-members, including 17-year old girl, hauled aboard (2 shots)
SV Open hatchway PAN TO second open hatchway of helicopter and observer plane flies past (2 shots)
GV Crewmembers in terminal building at Waterkloof Air Base near Pretoria (2 shots)
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Background: Nineteen people have been rescued from a Danish cargo ship, foundering on a coral reef off the coast of Mozambique. The 1,400 ton Pep Ice ran aground in Tuesday (8 January) near the island of Bassa da India and threatened to break up in heavy surf. On Friday (11 January), three South African Air Force transport planes -- carrying a full medical team and a dismantled Puma helicopter -- took off from Pretoria to rescue the seamen. After refuelling in Maputo, the capital of Mozambique, the giant transport planes headed for the small island of Europa in the Mozambique Channel, where the Puma helicopter was quickly assembled for the rescue operation.
SYNOPSIS: By the time the helicopter reached the pep Ice, the freighter's holds had been flooded and heavy seas prevented the crew from launching their lifeboats.
Then the dramatic rescue operation began. Also on board the cargo ship were nine sailors from a Cypriot-registered bulk carried. Earlier, they had tried to reach the stricken vessel, but their motor launch capsized and now they, too, were stranded. They were the first to be lifted from the deck of the Psp Ice and winched aboard the helicopter in special rescue harnesses.
Then it was the turn of the Danish crewmen. For South Africa, the operation was also a delicate one politically. The country has no diplomatic relations with Mozambique, and the South African Air force had to apply for overflying rights and permission to land in Maputo and the island of Europa. The international arms embargo against South Africa forced it to use aircraft which, it said, were unsuitable for rescue operations.
The Pep Ice was carrying a cargo of seventeen million South African eggs and was on its way from the port of Durban to the Middle East. The Bassas da India reef has been feared for centuries by sailors. Tow vessels have foundered in this "ship's graveyard" in modern times and there are numerous older wrecks scattering the coral reef. One of the crew-members rescued from the pep Ice was a seventeen-year-ole Danish girl, Birgit Petersen.
Within three hours the operation was complete and twelve seamen were safe. They were flown to Europe island where they boarded the waiting transport planes.
On arrival at Waterkloof Air base near pretoria, the crew members looked none the worse for their experience. But the vessel's captain and first officer were still aboard the Pep Ice -- waiting the arrival of tugs which will try to free it from the reef. South Africa Defence officials described the rescue as highly successful and said it had demonstrated the country's importance as a safeguarder of the sea routes around its coasts.