An Israeli woman and an Italian man survived on a life raft for eight days in the Arabian Sea after their yacht sank in a storm, the Indian coast guard said Tuesday.
The couple, identified as Libi Belozerzki, 27, and Pierpaolo Mori, 35, set out from the Maldives on a yacht planning to sail to the Red Sea, but their boat overturned in a late monsoon storm, said Commandant Raj Putran of the Indian coast guard.
Putran said ships in the area were told to look out for the missing sailors after the Rome Maritime Rescue Coordination Center lost contact with them after Sept. 24.
A Belgian tug sighted them and picked them up on Oct. 3, he said. "The yacht had a life raft on board and they survived because they had emergency rations and water."
The two were taken to hospital in the southern Indian city of Kochi, where they were treated for dehydration and skin problems due to exposure to the sun and sea, he said.
They were released and returned to Italy on Monday, said Daniel Zonshine, Israel's consul general in Mumbai. "It was quite an experience, but they survived," he said.
Deceptively calm weather that follows the monsoon season may have encouraged the two sailing enthusiasts to set out on their journey, Putran said. "People often sail all the way up from Australia. With the weather turning better, they must have thought things were coming back to normal and so set sail," he said.
Putran said the couple, who lost all their possessions on the yacht, would return home after being issued new travel documents.