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Thursday, August 24, 2006

Nine months lost at sea

World news, Fisher men lost in seaThree Mexicans who survived an epic voyage across the Pacific Ocean in a small fishing boat have arrived in the Marshall Islands, setting foot on land for the first time in more than nine months.

The three men walked off the Taiwanese tuna trawler that found them two weeks ago floating in their 8-meter fiberglass boat about 8,000 km from their departure point, the Mexican Pacific coastal town of San Blas. Their bare feet were swollen, but otherwise the men appeared in good health.

The men, who said they set off on a fishing trip in November and lost their way when they ran out of gasoline, today reached the Marshall Island capital of Majuro, which is Monday in Mexico.

They smiled and waved and one man shouted ''Hello Mexico,'' to Mexican journalists as the trawler got close to the islands. The Mexicans stayed alive by eating raw birds and fish and drinking rain water. They said two other men died of starvation during the trip and were thrown overboard.

''We held a three-day wake and when he began to swell up we prayed,'' survivor Salvador Ordonez told Mexican television, describing what happened when the first man died. ''We put him in the sea and the current took him away.'' The fishermen denied rumors they had been trafficking drugs.

''We are shark fishermen,'' said Ordonez, who said he had no intention of abandoning the sea after his ordeal. ''I like living in San Blas, there's lots of shark nearby.'' Speculation about the mens' activities has centered on the fact that the survivors do not know the full names of the men who died. A local government official in San Blas said last week that no one there knew two other men were on board.

The fishermen were expected to be flown home to Mexico in the next few days.


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