A Slovak patrol plane saved the life of a Russian woman who had spent almost 24 hours drifting seven miles out to sea off the Greek coast on a plastic lilo.
The patrol checking for illegal aliens for the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, Frontex, was despatched to search for the woman off Rethymno, Crete.
Russian medic Olga Kuldo, aged 55, from Zelenograd, near Moscow, was staying with her husband Oleg, aged 59, and daughter Yulia, aged 28, at Rethymno on the north of the Greek island.
They alerted rescuers after she failed to return to her hotel room after a late afternoon swim.
Incredibly, Olga floated through one night and into the next day. But she was fried alive by the hot sun and needed hospital treatment for exposure and resulting heart problems
In an official statement the Slovak crew only said: “At 10.40 our aircraft located the missing person, floating on an air mattress, nine nautical miles from Rethymno and one nautical mile from the coastline close to Lavris.
“A Hellenic Coast Guard vessel was dispatched and rescued the 55 year old female who had been in the sea for about 20 hours. ”
But it was 21 hours later that she was spotted from the air after a huge boat and jet-ski search failed to locate her.
A rescue vessel brought her back to shore and she was rushed to hospital with “heart problems” and “hypothermia” after suffering from exposure and sun stroke.Her relieved daughter Yulia, 28, a TV producer, posted on social media: “Miracles happen.”
She said her mother, an ultrasound diagnostics doctor, had been “burned to ashes” by the daytime sun before the EU Frontex agency plane spotted her.
A local report on the island said she was on her subbed “when she was carried away to the open sea so she could not be seen from the beach”.