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Saturday 3 December 2016

Flying fish and a film helped save four people lost at sea

Published 13/05/2016 | 17:41

David Hernandez gives a thumbs up as he is stretchered away upon his arrival at the Kota Kinabalu International Airport in Sabah, Malaysia (AP)
David Hernandez gives a thumbs up as he is stretchered away upon his arrival at the Kota Kinabalu International Airport in Sabah, Malaysia (AP)
David Hernandez, top centre, and Marta Miguel, centre right, arrive at the Kota Kinabalu International Airport in Sabah, Malaysia (AP)

Four people who spent 10 days adrift at sea together have said they survived by eating flying fish and distilling seawater using a technique one of them saw in a film.

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A Spanish couple were with the Hong Kong-born owner of a Malaysian resort and a resort employee when a freak wave capsized their boat just off the Malaysian coast on May 2.

They managed to right the boat and bail it out but they were unable to restart the motor. The food and water they had aboard were lost.

Marta Miguel, who was with her partner David Hernandez, told Spain's COPE radio station on Friday that three flying fish landed in the boat on the third night.

She said: "Up to the sixth or seventh day, we didn't have anything else to eat."

One of the survivors had the idea of eating clams stuck to the bottom of the boat and mussels encrusted on a passing piece of flotsam, which provided more nourishment, she said.

They got drinking water thanks to her recollection from a film.

Ms Miguel said: "I recalled seeing something about a castaway who had to do this thing to drink water.

"I wasn't certain whether it was from evaporation or the water, but seeing as we had so much time on our hands we made it up as we went along."

They used a mobile phone screen and a plastic bag to catch evaporating water, according to Ms Miguel.

"Doing it every 15 minutes, we were each able to have a drink once an hour," she told COPE.

The two Spaniards were weakened but in relatively good health, her father Luis Miguel told Spanish National Radio.

Ali Hassan Mohamad Dusi said his daughter Armelia, the resort employee, told him she was in good health apart from being sunburnt. Tommy Lam Wai Yin was the resort owner.

Mr Hernandez told COPE the four never lost hope, even though many vessels and an air plane passed close by, apparently without seeing them or realising they were in trouble.

He said they felt "fear and frustration" that their families had no news of them.

"We were more afraid of that than for ourselves," he said.

TV images showed them smiling on Friday as they got off a plane and met family members in the Malaysian city of Kota Kinabalu after being rescued by two Vietnamese fishing boats off Borneo island.

Press Association

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