AZ rescue team: 2 sailors die, 2 hurt in Pacific - WNEM TV 5

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AZ rescue team: 2 sailors die, 2 hurt in Pacific

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A U.S. Air Force pararescue Airman from the 48th Rescue Squadron parachutes into the Pacific Ocean to aid to two critically injured sailors. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Adam Grant) A U.S. Air Force pararescue Airman from the 48th Rescue Squadron parachutes into the Pacific Ocean to aid to two critically injured sailors. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Adam Grant)
TUCSON, AZ (CBS5) -

Two Chinese sailors died and six are believed to be missing after their boat sank in the Pacific Ocean, rescuers from Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in southern Arizona said Sunday.

A Venezuelan fishing boat reported finding 11 sailors floating in a raft Friday afternoon, said Maj. Sarah Schwennesen.

The Venezuelan crew said four sailors were badly burned and two later died of their injuries.

She said the sailors were burned in either a fire or explosion.

Seven of the Chinese fishermen were in good condition and were transferred, along with the bodies of their two fellow sailors, to a Chinese-flagged ship in the area.

Schwennesen said airmen from the 563rd Rescue Group treated the sailors Saturday and into the night.

The 563rd Rescue Group deployed two Combat King II aircraft, three HH-60 Pavehawk helicopters and 10 Guardian Angel Personnel, with 38 Airmen from the 48th, 79th and 55th Rescue Squadrons.

The pararescue airmen flew for nearly 11 hours and then parachuted into the ocean along with two inflatable zodiac boats and medical equipment to deliver lifesaving care.

"At first glance before I parachuted down into the Pacific Ocean, my only thought was that others may live," said Staff Sgt. Chris Peters.

The mission was controlled by the 563rd RQG Operations Center at Davis-Monthan AFB.

"The Operations Center is essential to executing missions safely and effectively," said 563rd RQG Commander Col. Sean Choquette.

"We can gather the pertinent information on medical needs of patients, flight monitor, coordinate with country teams, in addition to command and controlling of rescue assets," Choquette said. 

The sailors will be hoisted onto helicopters Monday and flown to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, 1,100 nautical miles east of the Venezuelan vessel.

They will then be taken to a burn unit in La Jolla, CA.

Copyright 2014 CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved. 

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