PNG nationals survive six-week sea ordeal
FOURTEEN Papua New Guinea nationals who drifted for six weeks at sea have been rescued by a fishing boat outside national waters and brought in to Honiara yesterday.
They include four males and 10 females, the youngest being a girl of 4.
Unfortunately, a woman in her 40s had died during the sea ordeal after taking too much salt water.
Her body was released into the ocean.
The ordeal started after the 40-horse power engine of their boat broke down between Namatanai and Lihir in New Ireland province.
One of the survivors told the Solomon Star their engine experienced the problem on their way back home from a funeral at Kavieng.
“We took a boat from Lihir to Namatanai and travelled on a truck to Kavieng,” the man said.
“After the burial, we returned on the same route, during which our engine broke down between Namatanai and Lihir,” he added.
He said they survived on saksak (sago palm starch), trochus shells, sharks and whatever they caught in the sea.
“We drink salt water during sunny days and water during rain,” he added.
Furthermore, he said they never stopped praying to God during their journey until a fishing boat picked them up around 3pm on Monday and transferred them to MV Majestic Sun around 1pm, which brought them to Honiara yesterday.
Another woman survivor cried when recalling the events at sea, especially losing their elder woman or mama.
She said they cut a plastic container to use for drinking.
“We lost all our money, and other belongings in the sea.
“We have nothing with us now,” she said.
Upon their arrival, they went through proper medical check.
Medical authorities confirmed their conditions were stable, except for one person who was referred to the National Referral Hospital for treatment.
PNG High Commissioner to the Solomon Islands, Fred Yakasa said his office is organising temporary accommodation for the survivors to stay and recover.
“Once they are declared fit to travel, we will send them to Port Moresby by plane.
“We will talk with their provincial government to meet the cost of travel from Port Moresby to Lihir,” he Mr Yakasa said.
By EDDIE OSIFELO