Man survives 15-hour ordeal at sea after fall from cruise ship
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A man has cheated death, surviving an incredible 15 hours in the water after he fell overboard from a cruise ship - without a life-jacket.
Travis Rhea of the US Coast Guard said the man had fallen from the Carnival Valour before it headed into Gulf of Mexico. "At 2.30am on Thursday, Thanksgiving, we received notification of a missing passenger," Rhea told US Today.
"We immediately issued our urgent machine information broadcast. That essentially alerts all mariners in the vicinity to keep a lookout.
"We also launched all available resources to assist in the search for the individual. We launched a plane, a helicopter and a 45-foot response boat."
Rhea, who was the pilot on the rescue mission, said it had taken hours before they spotted the man. "We were probably in the air for about four hours before finding it in the water."
Rhea said it was the man's "will to live" that had left him survive so long.
"Based on the circumstance and the length of him being in the water, 15-plus hours in the conditions, three to five-foot seas, 75 degree (23C) water temperature - simply his will to survive," he said.
"He was obviously exhausted, very tired. He was cold. Mild hypothermia.
"We got him on to the helicopter, he was just so tired and hypothermic and nauseous, so it was difficult for us to communicate with him once we got him on the helicopter."