With reporting from Heba Fahmy
Nearly a dozen men who were trapped at sea during Wednesday’s sandstorm have been rescued by Qatar’s Coast Guard, one of them nearly 36 hours after falling off his boat.
According to the Ministry of Interior, 11 fishermen had been traveling in a 36-foot vessel off Mesaieed on Wednesday afternoon around 4pm. Hours later, high waves capsized the boat, sending them all into the water.
The boat had been registered with the Coast Guard and was heading to the East of Banana Island, with plans to return to shore around 9:30pm.
By this time, authorities had been warning residents that a sandstorm was imminent, but many were still caught off guard by the severity of the weather.
Around 10:30pm, the Coast Guard received a distress message from the fishermen’s boat.
In a statement on Facebook, MOI continued:
“Rescue patrols from various departments searched the are the whole night irrespective of high waves but couldn’t find anything until dawn. Two helicopters from Emiri Air Force took part in the operation to have an aerial survey of the area.
In the first hour of dawn, the rescue team could find 9 persons. The search continued for the whole day for the remaining two and they were found in the second day after expanding the search to 20km area.”
According to the Peninsula, the last survivor had been at sea for some 36 hours before being rescued, shortly before prayers on Friday.
Another sandstorm is forecast to reach Qatar today, and fishermen are advised to avoid going out on the water as high winds and seas are once again expected.