Two Chinese fishermen are recovering from second and third degree burns at the intensive care unit at UC San Diego Medical Center in Hillcrest.
On Saturday, the U.S. Air Force parachuted into the Pacific Ocean to rescue the men. The ordeal began last week when there was an explosion and fire that sank the fishing boat they were aboard.
There were 17 people on board. Two died, six are still missing and the rest are on their way back to China.
The two men do not want their names released. They are both described as being in their 30s and from the Fujian Province in China. The boat left from the Fujian Province in December.
The men were discovered floating on a raft Friday and pulled to safety by a Venezuelan boat about 1,100 nautical miles off the coast of Cabo San Lucas. After the Air Force safely rescued the men, they arrived in San Diego on Monday night and were taken by ambulance to UC San Diego Medical Center.
Dr. Raul Coimbra, surgeon in chief at UCSD Medical Center Hillcrest, gave an update on the condition of the fishermen Tuesday, saying the men do not have life threatening burns. One man has burns on around 18 percent of his body, while the other has burns on 8 percent of his body, according to Coimbra. These burns are on the lower and upper body, but not the face.
“They are being evaluated constantly which is the way we approach this injuries to decide whether they need surgical intervention for removal of the burn wounds versus local wound care for their burns and they will heal,” said Coimbra.
Coimbra says the men are conscious and communicating with hospital staff.
Representatives from the Chinese Consulate in Los Angeles traveled to San Diego on Monday night to help with translation and to help identify the men. Zhou Xiang from the Chinese Consulate says the families of the fishermen and employer have been contacted.
Coimbra says he doesn’t know how long the men will remain in hospitalized in San Diego. At this point, he said it’s a day by day prognosis.
“Hopefully over time, we’ll be able to make a decision whether they need surgery or wound care.
Obviously, if they require surgery they will stay here a little longer, if they don’t they will probably go home a lot sooner,” he added.