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Four survive month adrift at sea after capsizing

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After a week on the fishing boat, they were dropped off in Honiara, the capital of the Solomon Islands, last Saturday, where they received treatment for dehydration (stock photo)

After a week on the fishing boat, they were dropped off in Honiara, the capital of the Solomon Islands, last Saturday, where they received treatment for dehydration (stock photo)

After a week on the fishing boat, they were dropped off in Honiara, the capital of the Solomon Islands, last Saturday, where they received treatment for dehydration (stock photo)

Four people survived 32 days adrift on a boat in the Pacific by eating coconuts floating in the ocean and drinking rainwater in an extraordinary ordeal that claimed the lives of eight other passengers including a baby, a local newspaper has reported.

The group, from Papua New Guinea's Bougainville province, set off on December 22, with the intention of spending Christmas in the Carteret Islands, about 100km away.

However, their small boat capsized and several members of the group drowned, the only survivor with "the strength and energy to talk" told the 'Solomon Star News'.

The rest managed to right the vessel and clamber back on board, but more died as they lay adrift far from land and pulled by powerful ocean currents.

"We could do nothing with their dead bodies; we just had to let go of them at sea," survivor Dominic Stally said. "A couple 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."

The stricken group were given false hope when several fishing boats passed nearby but failed to notice them as they had no flares to raise the alarm. A fishing vessel finally spotted them on January 23 off New Caledonia.

They had drifted more than 1,900km.

The survivors comprised two men, a woman and a girl aged about 12.

After a week on the fishing boat, they were dropped off in Honiara, the capital of the Solomon Islands, last Saturday, where they received treatment for dehydration.

© Daily Telegraph, London

Telegraph.co.uk