Mon, 14 Aug 2000

Three die in Sawu Sea mishap

MAUMERE, East Nusa Tenggara (JP): Three men died and four others are still missing after a strong eddy destroyed an eight- crew fishing boat on the Sawu Sea, the only known survivor said on Friday evening.

According to survivor Polalo, he and the other crew members were on their way back home to Sumbawa Island in the neighboring province of West Nusa Tenggara aboard their vessel KM Anaputri after about five months at sea shrimp fishing when their boat was struck by the powerful eddy on the evening of July 7.

"At around 11 p.m., our ship was suddenly trapped in the strong whirlpool, went around at high speed and sank into the sea," Polalo, a resident of Lando village in Poh Jenggi subdistrict of Mataram, told The Jakarta Post.

"I survived because I had the chance to catch a jerry can," he said, saying that he spotted his three dying friends -- Muhammad, Budin and Samiq -- on the following day.

The three died several hours after being found. But Polalo said he decided to tie the dead bodies of his three friends to his own body until he was spotted 12 days later by fishermen from Lamakera Solor Barat West of East Flores,

While floating in the water, Polalo said that he had no choice but to drink seawater to survive.

His missing friends include the boat's captain, Udin. (yac)