RECOVERING FISHERMEN BOUND FOR HONOLULU

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By Giff Johnson

SAIPAN, CNMI (Marianas Variety) - The only sign that Salvador Ordonez, Jesus Vidana Lopez and Lucio Rendon survived a starvation diet for more than nine months drifting across the Pacific Ocean in an 8.5 meter boat is swollen ankles and feet.

They arrived in the Marshall Islands Tuesday morning and were immediately taken to the main hospital for evaluation.

"They were okay," said Neijon Edwards, the protocol officer for the Marshall Islands Foreign Ministry who has been accompanying the three Mexican fishermen since their arrival in Majuro. "Their physical check up was fine, and they even passed their psychological examination."

The chief problem appears to be whether or not they’ll be able to wear shoes for their expected Wednesday night departure to Honolulu.

"We bought them shoes but they can’t wear them because their feet are swollen," Edwards said Tuesday night. "Right now they are wearing zories."

Edwards and Mexican government officials spent time Tuesday afternoon shopping for clothes for the three fishermen, and making arrangements for their departure.

The trio survived 295 days at sea after leaving San Blas, Mexico on October 28 last year. They said they ran out of gas after about two days of shark fishing off the coast of Mexico. "Fishing and praying mostly," is what kept the men alive, said Vidana. "God really helped us because we were at sea for so long."

Although the group arrived without passports or any kind of identification, that problem has been taken care of by Luis Enrique Franco, the deputy head of Mexico’s New Zealand Embassy, who issued new passports to the three men Tuesday in Majuro so they can travel back to Mexico. Patricia

Gutierrez Berumen, an official from the Foreign Ministry in Mexico, will escort the trio back home.

They are scheduled to leave on a Continental flight to Honolulu Wednesday night, and then continue to Mexico via Los Angeles, Edwards said.

August 24, 2006

Marianas Variety: www.mvariety.com

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