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Last Updated: Tuesday, 7 June, 2005, 04:31 GMT 05:31 UK
Lucky rescue for Pacific boatmen
By Phil Mercer
BBC News, Sydney

Two fishermen from Kiribati, a group of islands between Australia and Hawaii, have been rescued after being lost in heavy seas for eight weeks.

The men were found in waters off Papua New Guinea after drifting across a vast section of the Pacific Ocean.

Their small craft was battered by the elements and they survived by eating raw fish and drinking rain-water.

While lost at sea, they spotted 10 other fishing boats that either failed to see them or simply ignored them.

So, their ordeal continued while their hopes began to fade.

One of the fishermen said he was down to his last prayer when they were finally picked up by a Micronesian fishing vessel.

Rough weather

Their extraordinary journey began in tropical waters north of Kiribati, a country made up of 33 atolls scattered over 3.5 million sq km (1.35 million sq miles) of ocean near the Equator.

Fishing is a vital part of the economy for an island nation with few natural resources.

The two men said they became disorientated in bad weather on what should have been a routine fishing trip.

They are now on their way home from Papua New Guinea after a stopover in the Solomon Islands.

There they met two other fishermen from Kiribati with their own story of survival.

They were lost at sea for more than two weeks before being rescued by a Taiwanese vessel.

The men said that four other foreign ships had refused to take them on board and had left them drifting in the ocean.





SEE ALSO:
Tiny Pacific nation takes on Australia
04 Mar 02 |  Asia-Pacific
Country profile: Kiribati
04 May 05 |  Country profiles
Timeline: Kiribati
28 May 03 |  Country profiles



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