In May 2013, a tugboat with a crew of 12 was towing an oil tanker off the coast of Nigeria.
When a rogue wave slammed against the vessel, it snapped the towrope and capsized the boat.
After two days, a team was tasked to recover the bodies from the shipwreck. What they thought would just be a sight of carnage and tragedy turned out to be a miracle. The ship’s cook named Harrison Okene reached out his hand in a desperate feat for help.
The 29-year old was found in a room brimming with water, breathing through an air pocket. “I was there in the water in total darkness just thinking it’s the end. I kept thinking the water was going to fill up the room but it did not,” the 29-year old recalls. Some parts of his skin began to peel off due to being soaked in salt water for too long.
Wearing only his boxer shorts, Okene was cold from the freezing waters and nourished himself with a bottle of Coca Cola and used a life vest with two small flashlights. He heard sharks and other sea creatures chomping away on the bodies of his peers. He knew then there was very little hope for him to be found.
“As I was coming out of the toilet it was pitch black so we were trying to link our way out to the water tidal (exit hatch),” Okene explained. “Three guys were in front of me and suddenly water rushed in full force. I saw the first one, the second one, the third one just washed away. I knew these guys were dead.”
When Okene saw the divers during the operation, he knew he had to do something. “So I tapped him at the back of his neck, so he was afraid.” When the diver saw his hand he said “corpse, corpse, a corpse,” into his microphone, reporting to his rescue vessel. “When he brought his hand close to me, I pulled on his hand,” Okene sais.