Bougainvilleans rescued after drifting for 32 days at sea
By IAN M.KAUKUI
Four out of 12 people from Buka in Bougainville have been rescued by a fishing boat after their boat capsized and drifted at sea since December 2019.
On arrival on Saturday at the Solomon Islands International Ports, the survivors were then transported immediately to the National Referral Hospital (NRH) for medical attention following the terrible sea ordeal.
From observations at the hospital, the four survivors are so very weak and lost weights as they were medically checked by the nurses at the NRH.
The survivors include a woman and her young girl about 12 years another boy in his 20s and a grown young man by the name of Dominic Stally.
Mr Stally who is the only one who has strength and energy to talk said they left Buka on 22nd December to celebrate their Christmas on Carteret Islands when they met their tragedy.
Stally said when their boat capsized, some of them went missing on the spot and some continue to swim with the boat.
He said they have managed to get the water out from the boat and climbed in it before they continue to drift.
Speaking with emotion as well as not fully recovered from the sea ordeal, Stally could not state all that has happened as he didn’t feel comfortable when recalling everything.
But he said it was a sad moment for them especially seeing some of them missing during the tragedy and some died in the boat.
“We could not do anything with their dead bodies. We just have to let go of them at sea.
“A couple have died and left behind their baby and I am the one who held on to the baby and later the baby died as well.
“I am really sorry but there is nothing more I could do to help save the family,” he said.
He said many ships believed to be fishing boats went past them but from a very far distance and they could not managed to get them.
Finally on January 23rd 2020, one fishing vessel travelling their direction spotted them and picked them up.
“We were picked up by a fishing boat just close to New Caledonia and we were kept and fed in the ship until we were told to off load here in Honiara.
“We spend about a week in the fishing vessel before being dropped off here,” he said.
Stally said they only survived by eating and drinking floating coconuts and get rain water for drinking using a bowl that was used for getting water out from the boat.
Meanwhile, PNG High Commissioner to Solomon Islands John C. Balavu was notified yesterday and managed to meet up with them at the National Referral Hospital.
Mr Balavu said as of yesterday plans are to find clothes for them and get feedback on their medications before arrangements can be made on their return to their home in Bougainville.