Friday, August 18, 2006

Adrift Nearly 9 Months, 3 Fishermen Are Rescued

Lost at sea since October, the three fishermen from a hamlet outside San Blas were given up for dead long ago. After weeks of looking for their son at fishing ports up and down the Pacific coast of Mexico, the parents of Salvador "Chava" Ordonez resigned themselves to the belief that he, his two companions and their 10-metre fishing boat had been swallowed up by the sea, family members said. News of a miracle came from more than 8,000 kilometres away. After more than nine months adrift, Ordonez and his companions had been found alive north of Baker Island in the central Pacific, the lonely stretch of ocean where aviator Amelia Earhart disappeared almost 70 years ago. They were rescued a week ago by a Taiwanese fishing trawler. Sunburned, skinny, but healthy, they were rescued Aug. 9 by the crew of the Koo's 102, a Marshall Islands fishing boat run by a Taiwanese crew. Trade winds and currents had carried the three from the waters off their home state of Nayarit more than halfway to Australia.
Miracle ... In a staggering story of survival, three Mexican fishermen, given up for dead by their families, have been found alive after drifting at the mercy of the Pacific Ocean for nine months, eating only raw birds and fish they caught with their bare hands.
"They were quite hungry," Eugene Muller, manager of Koo's Fishing Co., said from the Marshall Islands. "It's a long ways from Mexico to here." The Mexicans' fishing boat had two disabled outboard motors but was still seaworthy, he said. Interviewed via shipboard radio by Mexican television, the men said they survived by eating raw fish and capturing seabirds. "Sometimes our stomachs would hurt, because we would go up to 15 days without eating," Jesus Eduardo Vidana told Televisa. "There were times when we had only one bird to share among the three of us." They apparently had no radio or cellphone, relatives said. But they carried several days' worth of water and food, including a supply of lemons. Ordonez, Vidana and Lucio Rendon left the hamlet of El Limon on Oct. 28, for what was to have been two or three weeks of deep-sea fishing.

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