1 Mar 2006

Kiribati couple to return home after being lost at sea for 35 days

4:18 pm on 1 March 2006

A couple are returning to Kiribati today after surviving at sea for 35 days in a 19-foot wooden boat.

The unnamed pair went missing off Tarawa on December the 30th after their outboard motor failed.

Winds pushed them 2,000 kilometres to the west, past Nauru, to near Kapingamarangi, in the south of the Federated States of Micronesia.

A helicopter spotted them there and lifted them onto a fishing vessel which took them to Chuuk, where they recovered in the care of local people.

The Chuuk Visitors Bureau director Mason Fritz explains the husband was a sailor and used his knowledge of the sea.

"The most days they were actually starved and thirst was three days without drink and food. They were able to receive rain and they caught the rain with their coat. They're Christians and they pray and they were just fishing underneath their boat."

The couple are flying to Tarawa today where they hope to be reunited with their 10-year-old son.