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2 Rescued Kiribati Fishermen Were 700 Km From Home

Two fishermen from Kiribati were rescued after surviving almost four weeks adrift in the Pacific, surviving on raw fish and rainwater, a report said Wednesday.

American Samoa-based tuna purse seiner F/V Pacific Princess picked up the pair almost 700 kilometers from their island home.

Pacific Princess skipper Alfred Canepa said he found the men after spotting what appeared to be a small flock of birds on his radar while searching for tuna.

“I went to go check on my boat and luckily I turned that way to check them and we found this small boat with two men adrift at sea, lost,” he said.

Canepa said the men, aged 20 and 40, had been fishing in a small aluminum boat when their outboard engine gave out and currents swept them out to sea.

He said they were malnourished after three weeks and five days at sea when they were found and would not have survived much longer in the open ocean.

“It’s a hell of an ordeal, believe me,” he said.

“Once they were taken on board I gave them water straight away ... it was a dry spell, they weren’t getting much rain and what happened was they started drinking salt water and that’s lethal. They wouldn’t have lasted another three days doing that.”

Canepa said that the men’s first request after drinking some water was to visit the ship’s chapel, where they prayed for three hours to celebrate their survival.

After picking up the men, the Pacific Princess abandoned its scheduled fishing expedition and spent a day-and-a-half steaming to the nearest port, reaching the Solomon Islands capital Honiara on Monday.

According to Canepa the two men had managed to phone their relieved families from the Solomons and arrangements were being made to return them to Kiribati.

Stories of survival in the vast Pacific are not uncommon.

In 2006, three Mexicans were found drifting in the middle of the Pacific in their stricken boat, nine months after setting out on a shark-fishing expedition.

And in 1992, two fishermen, also from Kiribati, were at sea for 177 days before coming ashore in Samoa.