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By Tom Kathoa

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, May 9) –Authorities in the Papua New Guinea province of East New Britain are making arrangements to repatriate four Kiribati nationals back to their country.

The fishermen were picked up by two foreign fishing vessels at different locations and dates after they drifted in the open seas for nearly two months.

Reports say the men went out fishing in two groups when their motorized canoes developed engine problems, leaving them adrift.

A senior fisheries officer, Dickson Kondaula said the men were found in open waters off the southeastern coast of New Ireland province.

Two of the fishermen Reuben Baiki a college student, aged 23, and 30- year-old Atabu Baia, who is married with nine children, were picked up by the fishing vessel MV Cape Cod owned by FMS company.

Mr Kondaula said Baiki and Baia were picked up on the May 4 at Lyern Reef on North-West of New Ireland and taken to Rabaul last Friday.

They were allowed to go ashore after having been checked and cleared by Customs, Health and Quarantine officers.

The other two are still on board another fishing vessel after having been picked up and also taken to Rabaul.

Health and Quarantine officers said the men looked weak because of dehydration but are doing well. They have commended the crew of the fishing vessels for feeding them with food to regain their health.

They are yet to be checked by health and quarantine officials.

The Kiribati nationals would remain in Rabaul until arrangements were made by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Immigration in Port Moresby to send them to their country, to the northeast of PNG.

May 10, 2005

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