Hero captain may be flown home for surgery

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Hero captain may be flown home for surgery

The government has begun preparations to transport the wounded captain of the Samho Jewelry to Korea using an air ambulance, sending a team of medical experts to Oman for the necessary arrangements, officials said yesterday.

Seok Hae-gyun, the ship’s 58-year-old captain, was recovering from a five-hour surgery at a hospital in the Omani port of Salalah, shortly after Friday’s rescue. He was shot multiple times by his captors during the Korean military’s mission to free the ship and its crew from Somali pirates.

According to Yang Je-hyeon, a Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade official dispatched to Sultan Qaboos Hospital to oversee Seok’s case, the Korean medical team, comprising two surgeons and a nurse, was scheduled to arrive at the hospital today.

“The team will support Seok’s treatment here and conduct a checkup to decide the details of transport to Korea.”

Said an official at the Korean Embassy in Oman: “If the doctors conclude that Seok’s condition will allow for a long distance flight, we will use an air ambulance to transport him to Korea before the end of the week.”

The captain’s wife and two sons will arrive at the hospital along with the medical team. Samho Shipping, the operator of the hijacked chemical freighter, is paying for Seok’s family’s trip. The company said yesterday that the family was to leave their home in Busan last night to fly to Oman via Dubai.

According to Sultan Qaboos Hospital, doctors had to postpone a second surgery because of his low platelet count. The Korean team is expected to decide whether the surgery will be performed in Oman or in Korea.

By Ser Myo-ja, Nam Hyung-suk [myoja@joongang.co.kr]
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