Kiribati fishermen survive a month adrift in Pacific

WELLINGTON (AFP) - Two fishermen from Kiribati were rescued after surviving almost four weeks adrift in the Pacific, surviving on raw fish and rain water, a report said on Wednesday.

An American Samoa-based fishing vessel "Pacific Princess" picked up the pair almost 700 kilometres from their island home, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported.

Pacific Princess skipper Alfred Canepa said he found the men after spotting what appeared to be a small flock of birds on his radar.

"I went to go check on my boat and luckily I turned that way to check them and we found this small boat with two men adrift at sea, lost," he said.

Mr Canepa said the men had been fishing when their engine gave out and took them out to sea.

He said they were malnourished and would not have survived much longer in the open ocean.

"It's a hell of an ordeal, believe me," he said.

"Once they were taken on board I gave them water straight away... it was a dry spell, they weren't getting much rain and what happened was they started drinking salt water and that's lethal.

"They wouldn't have lasted another three days doing that."

The men were taken to the Solomon Islands, where arrangements were being made to return them to Kiribati.

Stories of survival in the vast Pacific are not uncommon.

In 2006, three Mexicans were found drifting in the middle of the Pacific in their stricken boat, nine months after setting out on a shark-fishing expedition.

And in 1992, two fishermen, also from Kiribati, were at sea for 177 days before coming ashore in Samoa.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.