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Two men survive run-in with whale

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Two men who defied death, surviving rough seas and a run-in with a whale, have told of their harrowing experience after one was reunited with his family in Cape Town.

The other, who is from France, spoke to his family on the phone after he was brought to shore.

The two men were in a 52 foot Catamaran when they were hit by a whale. They were en route from Durban to Cape Town at the time. The unlucky incident led to a two-day search and rescue by the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI).

NSRI spokesperson Craig Lambinon told News24 that the two men Jean Sitruk, 65, from Lyon, France, and Kyle Castelyn, 30, from Strand, were found at about 18:25 on Sunday by the bulk carrier CMA CGM Rossini.

According to the men, while off-shore on the Transkei coast, they heard loud bangs and felt the yacht swing to one side. When they looked to see what had caused it, they saw a whale swimming alongside the yacht.

The yacht immediately took on water and despite putting out a distress broadcast, they were forced to abandon ship, before their craft capsized within minutes on Saturday.

The men said they activated their Radio Beacon and hung on and rowed in rough seas.

They said that they had noticed ships in the distance using spotlights during the night, but were too far away to see them. It reassured them, however, that a search for them was most likely under way.

They set off a red distress flare. but it went unnoticed. On Sunday morning, their rubber-duck capsized and they lost most of their supplies, and shortly after were forced to paddle as they faced the onslaught of waves.

Lambinon said that during an extensive ongoing search, the ship CMA CGM Rossini located them, off Kidd’s Beach near East London.

Lambinon said the men said they received five-star treatment from the crew who went as far as to provide them with new shoes during the voyage to Cape Town. News24

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