DRIFTERS SURVIVE SIX WEEKS ON COCONUTS, SEAGULL

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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (May 11, 1999 – Post-Courier)---Dried coconuts and a seagull were the only food two Buka men had to survive on for six weeks while they drifted at sea.

Timothy Riries, 42, and his nephew Jonathan Kosin, 27, had left their village of Lemankoa on Buka Island on a fishing trip in March. They washed ashore in the Solomon Islands six weeks later.

Speaking from Honiara, Riries said he and Jonathan had gone fishing on March 26, at around 2:00 p.m.

After they caught some fish, they decided to start their motor and return to the village at about 4:00 p.m., but according to Riries, on their way back they were caught in a storm with rough seas and heavy rain.

He said that it was no use trying to travel in bad weather so they stopped the outboard motor and slept.

The next day they could just see their island, so they started their motor and headed for the village, but ran out of gas.

When it began to rain the men cleaned out the bottom of their boat and caught rainwater, then saved it in a four-liter container.

After three weeks of drifting, they spotted a coconut and drank the juice and ate the nut. The next day they found another coconut. Two days later they caught a seagull.

Riries said they drifted for another few days before they woke up one morning and saw an island, but they couldn’t reach it and drifted past. The next day, they saw another island but still could not reach it.

Finally they were washed up on the Solomons’ island of Makira, where a couple took the drifters to the village.

Riries said word must have been passed on ahead to the village because when they entered the village, food was ready for them.

They spent three days on Mikira before a Solomon Islands patrol boat picked them up and took them to Honiara.

PNG's High Commission representative Joseph Janzang confirmed that the men arrived in Honiara on Monday and were staying with a PNG family.

Janzang said they have airline tickets for the two men to travel back to Buka on Sunday.

For additional reports from The Post-Courier, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/The Post-Courier (Papua New Guinea).

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