Coast Guard rescuers made contact Monday with four crew members trapped inside a capsized cargo ship, confirming that the men were still alive more than a day after the vessel overturned while leaving a port on the Georgia coast. Rescuers used a helicopter to land on the side of the Golden Ray and rappelled down the hull.

They drilled a hole to communicate and found the crew members were "on board and OK," said Lieutenant Lloyd Heflin, who's coordinating the rescue. Finding a way to free the men without putting them in more danger was the next step.

Fire and ship's stability complicate rescue efforts

 

Rescue efforts broke off Sunday after responders determined a fire aboard the ship made it too dangerous to go inside. They were also concerned about the stability of the ship, which was carrying 4,000 automobiles, some of which may have broken loose.

The flames were extinguished, but the huge ship was listing at nearly 90 degrees. "It's still going to be a while," Heflin said. "We're still working the problem to see what the safest way is."

Rescuers tried to communicate with the South Korean crew about possible hazards inside, but said there was an initial language barrier, Heflin said. The Coast Guard said it would seek to deliver supplies through the communication hole or another hole.

Some rescuers worked from a tent set up on the deck of a tugboat off the ship's stern, while smaller boats and helicopters buzzed around. Onshore, crowds gathered to watch the Coast Guard operation.

"To see it on its side, it was just so big, so surprising, and there's just a huge crowd down here," a woman told CBS affiliate WJAX-TV Sunday.

20 safely rescued on Sunday

 

The 656-foot vehicle carrier was stuck in Georgia's St. Simons Sound, closing one of the busiest U.S. seaports for shipping automobiles. A statement issued Monday by the South Korean foreign ministry said the crew members were isolated in an engine room.

It said 10 South Koreans and 13 Filipinos had been on board, along with a U.S. harbor pilot, when the ship began tilting. In the hours immediately following the accident, the Coast Guard lifted 20 crew members into helicopters before determining it too risky to venture further inside.

Position records for the Golden Ray show the ship arrived in port in Brunswick Saturday evening after making the short sail from a prior stop in Jacksonville, Florida. The ship then departed the dock in Brunswick shortly after midnight and was underway only 23 minutes before its movement stopped in the mouth of the harbor where it capsized, according to satellite data recorded by the ship-tracking website Marine Traffic.