Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Rescued at sea

By KENAE KA’AU in Kapuna, Gulf Province
After four days and nights without food and water except for a coconut that kindly floated by, saturated all night by cold sea water, enduring spells of rough stormy weather and days of scorching heat from the sun, weak from dehydration with the hope of survival and eventual rescue all but gone, Charles hears the humming of an engine in the distance.

Afraid that it might be an illusion, Charles raises his head slowly from where he was balanced on the top of a drifting nipa palm trunk, floating in the open sea off the mouth of Pie River in the Gulf Province.

He saw a banana boat sailing past. A reality, an allusion or an answer to his prayer? Slowly he raised his arms and waved.

Somehow, just somehow, the people in that dingy, from Muro, Ihu sub district travelling to Daru, recognised the human hands waving and rescued Charles.

He was dropped of at Veraibari village in Kikori where search and rescue teams later picked him up and took him to Kapuna Rural Hospital where he shared his story as he was recovering under care.

Charles’s ordeal, explained above is not one that any person in his right mind would want to experience.It began when Charles and his 10 friends were heading to Port Moresby from Balimo in Western province on the October 25 in very rough stormy weather when their 23 foot banana boat powered by 2 x 40 horse powered engines sank out at sea outside of the Urika and Varoi rivers.

The accident happened between 9am and 10am. The banana boat was carrying a large container full of bundles of sago as they travelled out further where land was only in the dim distance they faced a series of large waves, the force of the wave and the weight of the container cracked the front of the banana boat and so they sank.

Charles and his friends were separated in rough stormy seas a few hours after they sank. Five of his friends swam from morning to evening and were rescued at 6:30pm by youths from Mariki village returning to their village from Upaia.

Those rescued had drifted ashore after spending 9 hours in the sea. Charles is now recovering at the Kapuna Hospital. He will tell the full story of his ordeal when he fully recovers. But of one thing he is certain.
“I am alive now only because my God was with me all the time,” he concluded. He is praying for his friends who are still missing.

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