LOST FIJI FISHERMEN SURVIVED ON RAINWATER

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SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, Feb. 13) - Four Fiji fishermen are ecstatic at returning to their families after being lost at sea for almost a month.

The group left Labasa to go fishing on January 22 and were reported missing on January 28 by their employers, Northern Ice Plant.

They were found floating in their fishing boat off Naduri Island on Monday afternoon by a group of villagers. Naduri Island is off the Seaqaqa coast of Mucuata.

Mote Nemia, 50, his 30-year-old son Atera Nemia, Bir Tauro, 51, and Kari Tauro, 30, returned to Labasa yesterday morning after spending a night in Naduri Village.

They are employed by Northern Ice Plant, a company that sells fish.

Mr. Nemia said they left Labasa in their navy blue boat MN16 on January 22.

"We went as far as Udu Point for the fishing trip and it was on our way back that we developed engine problems at Nabouono, in Cakaudrove waters," he said.

"So we began to drift and we were blessed that we drifted towards Macuata and not outside Cakaudrove otherwise we would have ended up in foreign seas."

He said after a week of drifting, they ran out of food and water and depended on rainwater for survival.

"We put out our buckets and basins and filled it up with rain water so we could live on that as we had no food and no other bottles of water that we packed when we left Labasa. The rain water kept us alive."

He said they would never forget the ordeal, which was worsened because of the prevailing tropical depression.

"It was so cold out there but thank God we prepared well before we left so we had some extra clothing and blankets, which we used during the cold nights," he said.

The other three fishermen were out in nearby villages, outside Labasa visiting their families yesterday.

The company, Northern Ice Plant referred all questions to the group.

One of the villagers, Inia Waqa, who was out fishing with his wife and another friend, said he saw the Rabi islanders out at sea.

"As soon as we saw them we went out to get them," he said. "We brought them to the village in Naduri, fed them, gave them some clothes and then we informed the police."

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