By PISAI GUMAR
A MAN and his two daughters, who had been adrift in a dinghy at sea for 14 days, were rescued by a fisherman hundreds of kilometres from their Milne Bay home.
Dad Morris Daweia, said they were without food throughout their ordeal and survived only on rainwater which they managed to catch on the dinghy’s canvas.
He described it as a “miracle” that his daughters, Patricia, 11, and Patrina, 8, never asked for food and remained calm throughout.
On July 25, Daweia, Patricia and Patrina left Keia village, Maramatana in North Coast, Milne Bay, on the dinghy to pick up his wife at Awaiama who was returning from Alotau town. The trip was to have taken between 10 and 15 minutes.
But before they could reach the shore at Awaiama at around 3.30pm, the engine developed a problem which left them adrift.
Daweia said he was concentrating on fixing the outboard engine and did not realise that the strong wind and current had taken them out to the open sea.
“An attempt to rescue us by a local man at Awaiama failed,” he said.
They drifted in a northerly direction along the coasts of Northern and Morobe. The Milne Bay provincial disaster officer alerted the Manolos Aviation in Lae which conducted a search last Wednesday but could not locate them.On Sunday, Daweia said fisherman Abel Philip from the Aronai islet in Siassi who was on a fishing trip saw them and took them ashore.
Daweia told The National at the Aronai Primary School that from July 25 to Aug 6, there was no food and they survived only on rain water.
“It was a miracle that every morning when my two daughters woke up from under the canvas, they hardly talk about hunger or asked for food,” he said. “Instead, they just sit down, talk to each other, stand to look around at the open sea and drink the rain water we caught on the canvas.
“The rain was continuous and we were unable to look far because it was all white around us.
“The north-easterly wind pushed us towards Siassi sland.”
Manolos Aviation on Tuesday was alerted about their location. Helicopter pilot Dan Munteanu and medivac nurse Susan Muro went to Aronai to bring them back to Lae.
Arrangements are being made to help return them to Keia village in Milne Bay.
By PISAI GUMAR