By ANTHONY KAYBING
FIVE people from the Autonomous Region of Bougainville were rescued by a Japanese vessel after being adrift for 29 days.
They had left mainland Bougainville for Nissan Island on Nov 17 when they went off course.
The four adult males and a female were picked up by the Japanese fishing vessel Shoyu Number 18 around 11am near the Solomon Islands and Bougainville border on Monday.
During their ordeal, they survived on raw fish and other sea protein with rainwater collected from a bucket for drinking.
One of the survivors, Brandon Bure, said the vessel which picked them up was the 26th ship they had seen during their ordeal.
“Most of the ships just went pass us without any acknowledgement that we lost all hope we had of surviving,” he said.
Mr Bure also acknowledged the vessel IV Express, which spotted them after 14 days at sea, supplied them with canned food and five litres of water which lasted them for about three days.
Mr Bure explained that the ship was on its way to China so it could not take them.
He expressed his gratitude towards the vessel and its crew for their help.
Despite what had happened, Mr Bure could not offer a clear explanation as to why they had gone off course.
“We were not experiencing engine trouble or problems with the compass, it’s still a mystery as to how we ended up like that,” he said.
These five people are a different group from the other five people who were also travelling to Nissan Island when they, too, got lost.
The other five have been missing for over two months now with no report despite the engagement of a search aircraft by the National Disaster office.