Six survive 19-day ordeal at sea

Main Stories, National

The National, Friday 14th of February, 2014

SIX men from Siassi Island, in Morobe, are thankful to be alive after spending 19 days drifting at sea when their dinghy outboard engine failed.
The six were found on Kiriwina in Milne Bay, after drifting in the Solomon Sea for almost three weeks when their 40-horse power engine broke down.
Their relatives had given them up for dead and had started mourning rites. 
They are from Marile village near Lablab station. Siassi lies to the north-east of Lae and directly west of Gloucester, in West New Britain. Kiriwina is east of Popondetta, in Northern.
They went out fishing on Tuesday, Jan 7. Heavy rain and rough seas forced them to drift towards West New Britain after the outboard motor engine failed. The current then forced them to drift south towards Kiriwina and the group of islands east of Milne Bay.
Miriam Muyambe, a relative of the six islanders, said in a telephone interview yesterday, the six men survived by rationing some packets of biscuits they had with them.
They also managed to store rain water.
“They were found alive on Jan 26 on Sulupwaga Island, near Kiriwina,” she said.
“They survived on water because it was raining out at sea and the biscuits helped them.
“They rationed the biscuits until the locals found them.
“They stayed for a week at the Kiriwina Lodge before they were taken to Alotau where disaster officials helped them fly to Lae.
“The whole village thought they were dead and their families mourned for them.”
Muyambe has been liaising with authorities in Alotau and Kiriwina to bring them back home.
They are expected to be reunited with their families this weekend.
They leave Lae for Siassi today.