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Last Updated: Wednesday, 21 January, 2004, 18:45 GMT
Epic shipwreck's survivors return
Fourteen Bangladeshi fishermen are returning home after a two-month ordeal that saw them given up for dead.

The trawlermen were shipwrecked in late November but were rescued after clinging to a barrel for a week.

But their ordeal was not over - they were taken to distant Sri Lanka, where no-one realised where they were from due to language difficulties. Officials are now arranging their final journey - to their families in Bangladesh's south-east.

Unconscious

The fishermen, all from the coastal district of Cox's Bazaar, arrived back at Dhaka airport on Wednesday.

They had sailed out in late November for a routine fishing trip.

Two weeks into the journey, a cyclone struck their vessel, capsizing it.

Fastening themselves to barrels stored in their boat, the men managed to stay afloat for eight days.

A trawler from Sri Lanka found them drifting on the water, unconscious, and rescued them.

Passports

They were taken back to Sri Lanka, where the navy admitted them to a hospital in the town of Trincomalee.

But initial language differences meant it took the Sri Lankans some time to work out who the men were.

Their surprise at discovering the men were from Bangladesh was matched only by the men's shock at finding themselves in Sri Lanka.

The Bangladesh High Commission verified their identities and made arrangements for their return.

Passports were issued to the fishermen, and they finally boarded a plane back to Bangladesh.

They are now going back to their villages in a remote coastal region of country, where the news of their survival may have yet to arrive.

Dozens of Bangladeshi fishermen die annually in the Bay of Bengal.


SEE ALSO:
Bangladesh fishermen missing in storm
28 Jul 03  |  South Asia
Fears grow for Bangladesh fishermen
27 Jul 03  |  South Asia
Scores missing in Bay of Bengal
14 Nov 02  |  South Asia
Cyclone hits Bay of Bengal
13 Nov 02  |  South Asia
Five Bengali fishermen missing
05 Feb 02  |  South Asia
Sri Lanka navy sinks Tiger boats
16 Aug 99  |  South Asia


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