A 62-year-old Frenchman survived 16 hours at sea relying on an air bubble under his boat after it capsized in the Atlantic Ocean, according to Spanish coast guards who eventually rescued him.
In a mission they described as "on the edge of impossible," Spanish coast guards said they raced "against the clock" to rescue the man, who has not been publicly identified, after his boat sent out a distress signal Monday night.
The Spanish coast guard said the 40-foot Jeanne Solo Sailor sent out the distress signal just before 8:30 p.m. (2 p.m. ET) about 14 miles from the Sisargas Islands off Spain’s northwestern Galicia region. Tracking data showed the vessel had set sail from Portugal's capital, Lisbon, on Sunday morning, according to Reuters.
After a difficult search in "rough seas," the coast guard said divers were able to locate the overturned boat.
In dramatic video shared by the coast guard, a rescuer can be seen being lowered onto the vessel and crouching over it, appearing to bang on the hull before listening for signs of life from the sailor.
According to Reuters, the sailor responded to him banging by knocking from inside the boat.
After determining that the sea was too rough to attempt a rescue, the coast guard attached buoyancy balloons to the ship's hull to prevent it from sinking further as they waited for the morning, the news agency reported.
The sailor was eventually rescued from "inside the sailboat" around 12 p.m. (6 a.m. ET) Tuesday, with video shared by the coast guard appearing to show him being airlifted to safety.
"Each life saved is our greatest reward," the coast guard said.
The Spanish coast guard did not immediately respond to a request for further information.