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Missing boaters rescued while ‘fending off sharks’ after being overboard for 24 hours

Click to play video: 'U.S. Coast Guard rescues capsized boaters who were attacked by sharks'
U.S. Coast Guard rescues capsized boaters who were attacked by sharks
WATCH: The U.S. Coast Guard released footage on Monday of its members rescuing three men whose boat sunk off the coast of Empire, La., on Sunday. Two of the men were treated for shark bites on their hands after spending 24 hours in the water – Oct 11, 2022

“Rescued just in the nick of time,” said the U.S. Coast Guard in a press release about the dramatic rescue of three Louisiana boaters from shark-infested waters.

The trio had been out on a fishing trip off the coast of New Orleans when their seven-metre boat capsized. When the U.S. Coast Guard eventually located them, two of the boaters were witnessed “fending off sharks” and sustained injuries to their hands during the ordeal.

By the time the three boaters were rescued, they had been stranded for over 24 hours and one had begun experiencing signs of hypothermia. Their boat had sank around 10 a.m. on Saturday and the Coast Guard finally located the fishers around 2 p.m. on Sunday.

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The Coast Guard posted videos of the rescue showing the ill-fated fishers being hoisted into response boats and a helicopter, before being airlifted to a nearby hospital.

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The Coast Guard was alerted to the missing boaters by a concerned family member who reported the fishers missing after they didn’t return home Saturday evening. When the trio’s boat sank, they didn’t have any communication devices or means of calling for help.

“We searched an area roughly the size of Rhode Island and are thankful to have found these missing boaters,” said Lt. Cmdr. Kevin Keefe, a New Orleans search and rescue mission coordinator. “If the family member had not notified the Coast Guard, and if these three boaters were not wearing life jackets, this could’ve been a completely different outcome.”

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The Coast Guard also thanked members of the local fishing community who helped identify possible areas where the vessel had sank. The boaters were found about 40 kilometres off the coast of Empire, La., a small fishing community south of New Orleans.

All of the boaters were reported to be in stable condition after being transported to a hospital.

According to CBS News, the sharks that attacked two of the fishers were blacktips: a species that can grow to around six feet long (1.8 metres) and can be found year-round in the Gulf of Mexico.

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