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Survivors share ordeal at sea

February 7, 2021 10:07 am
Neeru Christopher and Areieta Tiaon [Source: Fiji Police]

Two cousins who went missing in open waters during the height of Tropical Cyclone Ana have shared the story about their four day ordeal at sea.

The duo went on a fishing trip and were separated from each other when their boat capsized, forcing them to go days without food and water.

The memories of floating at sea not knowing if they will survive will forever haunt cousins Neeru Christopher and Areieta Tiaon.

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Christopher says he is thankful to the villagers of Dravuni in Kadavu for coming to their rescue and looking after them.

“We never sleep on Thursday, Friday, Saturday no food and it was raining and we got wet every day. But from there we still managed to swim. So plenty people pray for us. From Saturday night, the boat capsized there where the reef is and we swim to this island. I was staying on the other side, he stayed this side. We don’t know he was this side. I thought the fella already mate (died).”

He says they were on the same uninhabited island near Dravuni Village, separated by the rugged terrain.

“Then the boat came there to pick me. And I told him there’s another friend in the reef and the fella kept saying no don’t worry your friend there. The villagers said when they saw him there that side in the middle, they thought one turtle wanted to come lay eggs here. Because from afar, he was tired so his head going up and down.”

Dravuni Turaga Ni Koro Joji Kovelali says the villagers were cleaning up after TC Ana passed when they noticed someone swimming to shore.

“Then the boat came there to pick me. And I told him there’s another friend in the reef and the fella kept saying no don’t worry your friend there. The villagers said when they saw him there that side in the middle, they thought one turtle wanted to come lay eggs here. Because from afar, he was tired so his head going up and down.”

The two fishermen had left Vatuwaqa, Suva for a fishing trip on the 28th of last month.

The Acting Commissioner Rusiate Tudravu deployed a team of officers to traditionally thank the people of Dravuni for looking after the two men and to safely escort them to Suva.

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