Page last updated at 22:21 GMT, Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Men survive weeks lost in Pacific

A survivor is helped ashore at Majuro in the Marshall Islands - 17 November 2009
The survivors ate drifting coconuts and crabs to stay alive

A group of men from Papua New Guinea have been rescued after more than two months adrift in the Pacific Ocean.

A helicopter belonging to a US-flagged fishing vessel, the Ocean Encounter, spotted the boat as it drifted off Nauru on Sunday.

Seven men were on board but two died after being rescued by the US crew.

The five survivors are now in hospital in Majuro in the Marshall Islands, thousands of kilometres from where they first set sail.

According to Giff Johnson, editor of the Marshall Islands Journal, they appeared to be "in very serious stages of illness, malnutrition" when they arrived.


"Four of the five survivors who came off had to be carried off on stretchers, one was able to walk," he said.

The group - initially of eight men - told rescuers they had been making a short crossing in PNG's New Ireland area on 14 September when they ran out of petrol.

They said they had seen a number of vessels while they were adrift but failed to attract their attention.

Last Friday one of the eight - a 17-year-old boy - died after jumping overboard to rescue clothing that had blown away.


The group told a Papua New Guinean sailor on the Ocean Encounter crew that neither they nor he had had enough strength to get him back into the boat, Mr Johnson said.

A second man died shortly after the US vessel rescued them and a third man just hours before the vessel arrived in the port of Majuro on Tuesday evening.

The five survivors were said to be stable in hospital, Mr Johnson said.

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