by Rachael Shisei – EM TV News, Madang
Three men from the neighboring Pacific island of Kiribati were found adrift in waters between Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands by a Madang based RD Tuna Cannery fishing vessel.
They were rescued on March 25 after floating for 36 days adrift at sea.
One of the three men is a 30-year-old father of three children, the other a 27-years-old father of two and the final man a 24-year-old.
They drifted an estimated 780 miles away from where they were fishing when their boat engine failed and the rough seas and strong currents pushed them adrift.
“We are very thankful to you and to God that we are safe,” said Kaaboka Teuaika, one of the survivors.
The three survived for 36 days out in the open sea feeding on raw fish and drinking whatever rainwater they were able get a hold of.
Five vessels passed them during their 36 days out at sea, with RD’s vessel the sixth that spotted them and eventually took them into safety.
“Our next priority is to repatriate them the soonest, so that they will be reunited with their families,” Emmanuel Pacifico, the RD Fishing Administration Division Manager said.
The Head of PNG Customs for Madang Port, Vina Kakai, said the office is currently in talks with the New Zealand Embassy, who’s in charge of Kiribati welfare in PNG, to arrange funds to have the three men repatriated back to their families.
Kakai said RD Fishing will assist in getting the three from Madang to Port Moresby, and Customs together with the International Organisation for Migration will take it from there.
The office is confident the three survivors will make it back to their families by the end of this week, or early next week at the latest.
Meanwhile, the RD Tuna Cannery is taking care of their accommodation and other necessities until they travel back to their homes in Kiribati.