30 Apr 2004

Four I-Kiribati safe after weeks lost at sea

11:01 am on 30 April 2004

Four Kiribati men who were lost at sea in two different boats for two and three weeks, respectively, have left for home from Majuro on the Kiribati government's patrol vessel, O Te-Inoai.

Brothers Tiriako and Auree Kabeunare survived a 20-day ordeal at sea after they were knocked off course by heavy rains and winds as they attempted to make the 90 mile open ocean trip from Tarawa, the capital of Kiribati, to Abemama Atoll in a 16-foot wooden boat.

The weather was clear when they left Tarawa on March 7th, but after several hours strong winds blew them more than 70 miles off course.

The pair drifted for twenty days, surviving on just five bread buns, before a Korean fishing vessel rescued them midway between Nauru and the Solomon Islands.

The other pair of brothers, Tawaia and Kabuaua Uatao, went fishing from Tarawa on April 7th and quickly ran out of gas on their 14-ft aluminium boat.

Subsisting off just three small fish and plenty of rain water, they drifted until April 21st when a Korean longliner spotted them in Solomon Islands waters.

Both pairs of rescued brothers ended up in Majuro in the last week, where they secured passage home yesterday on the Kiribati patrol boat.