17 Sep 2012

Kiribati man survives nearly four months at sea

10:17 am on 17 September 2012

A Kiribati fisherman who drifted in the central Pacific for nearly four months has been found alive and asking for cigarettes.

The Marshall Islands fishing vessel which picked him up, says Toakai Teitoi, was healthy but a friend who had sailed with him from Maiana Atoll in Kiribati on the 28th of May had died.

Fisheries observer, Ali Ezekiah, said in a radio message from the rescue vessel that Mr Teitoi was found on in his 15-metre boat on the 11th of September by the fishing vessel Marshalls 203 in waters northeast of Nauru.

He says the Marshalls 203 headed back to Majuro and when the crew brought him on to the fishing boat and asked him what he wanted, the first thing he said was a smoke.

The ship is due in port at the weekend.

Mr Teitoi told the Marshalls 203 crew his boat had suffered engine trouble and he had survived by eating fish and drinking rainwater.

He said his friend had died on the 4th of July 4.

The record for drifting at sea is believed to be held by two fishermen, also from Kiribati, who were at sea for 177 days before coming ashore in Samoa in 1992.