FIJI FISHERMEN LEFT ADRIFT BY PASSING BOAT

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HONIARA, Solomon Islands (SIBC, Nov. 3) – Four Fijian fishermen picked up at sea last week have spoken out publicly for the first time about their ordeal.

The four were picked up in the Ontong Java Sea last week by a fishing boat after spending nearly 40 days at sea.

Captain of the boat, Sanivalati Tokelau, has told SIBC News in an interview that they were on a fishing trip to a reef about 100 miles from Lautoka in mid-September when their engine experienced mechanical problems.

They began their drift at sea on September 20 until they were picked up on October 27.

Captain Tokelau says they sighted a number of ships while drifting but only one came close to them, but refused to pick them up, instead supplying them with some food and water.

"I think the captain must have regarded the value of money is more important than our lives. So that's it, he just took off and later on he came around and gave us a radio beacon. He said we switch the radio beacon on after two days, and one fishing vessel from the same company or around the vicinity will come around and pick us up. We did that. After two days, we turn the radio beacon on and there was no response whatsoever. So we kept on drifting."

November 3, 2005

Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corp.: http://www.sibconline.com.sb/

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