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DISASTER MANAGEMENT
Four castaways rescued off Mexico after month adrift
by Staff Writers
Mexico City (AFP) Nov 2, 2015


The Mexican navy has rescued four fishermen from Colombia and Ecuador who spent more than a month adrift in a small boat after getting lost at sea and running out of fuel.

The fishermen, who set off in late September from a Pacific Ocean port in northwestern Ecuador, were rescued Saturday off the coast of Chiapas in southern Mexico, some 2,000 kilometers (1,200 miles) away, said the navy.

The night before, a patrol plane had spotted "a small boat adrift with four crew waving their arms for help," the navy said in a statement.

A navy patrol was dispatched to rescue the men -- two Colombians, age 28 and 34, and two Ecuadorans, 26 and 42.

"The castaways said they launched from the port of Esmeraldas, Ecuador on September 24 and got lost at sea while fishing," said the navy.

They ran out of fuel on October 1 as they tried to return to port, then got swept north by the current, it said.

Pictures released by the navy showed the stranded men aboard the boat -- a small blue vessel called the Pregon with a single outboard motor -- then getting towed in, eating soup and undergoing medical check-ups.

Rescuers said the men were badly dehydrated but reported no other health problems.

The men have been handed over to immigration authorities in Chiapas, the navy said.

In January 2014, a Salvadoran fisherman named Jose Salvador Alvarenga was found in the southern Pacific after 13 months lost at sea in a small, open boat with a broken engine.

Alvarenga, who had set off from Mexico, was found in the Marshall Islands, 12,500 kilometers away. The emaciated castaway told journalists he survived by eating raw fish and bird flesh and drinking rain water, turtle blood and his own urine.

He said his Mexican crewmate died four months into the ordeal and that he pushed his companion's body into the sea.

His tale initially drew skepticism, but he passed a lie detector test and a University of Hawaii study of ocean winds and currents backed up his story.


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