Saturday 25 November 2017

Castaways found on Pacific atoll after 33 days at sea

TWO men from the Pacific island of Kiribati who were adrift in the Pacific have turned up on a tiny atoll 300 miles away, after 33 days at sea.

The men, aged 53 and 26, went missing more than a month ago and landed in the island state of Marshall Islands, where they were picked up by US coastguards. It is understood that the men are sick and weak but in a reasonable condition.

Locals say these long, unplanned voyages have become increasingly common in the region, especially involving Kiribati, a widely dispersed set of islands and atolls in the central Pacific Ocean. Many are fisherman who go missing and – if they are fortunate – end up marooned on tiny islands or atolls, where they are frequently rescued by the US Coastguard.

"As odd as it may seem, the Marshall Islands hosts Kiribas drifters quite frequently," said the editor of the Marshall Islands Journal, Giff Johnson, "It's not that it happens all the time. Let's just say people from Kiribas are very hardy individuals. They get lost on a little boat and manage to persevere. It is an amazing thing."

Mr Johnson told ABC Radio that the condition of the two latest drifters remained unknown. They are due be taken to the Marshall Islands and then flown back to their homes in Kiribati.

"We know very little at this point," he said. "They haven't yet made it into the capital." The record for long drifting in recent years is – supposedly – a year, by three Mexican fishermen who left from San Blas in late 2005 and went drifting across the Pacific. They turned up, almost a year later more than 5000 miles away in – of all places – the Marshall Islands.

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