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Stories From Kiribati


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Ocean Accident - Uean Te Raoi (5)

Posted by Amota Eromanga on October 23, 2012 at 1:30 AM


On the morning of our third day, I suddenly woke up from a dream. I was shocked to see fewer people around. Where had the others gone? Some answered me and said that several passengers left the ferry last night. I could not believe it. I checked around to look for those I knew from my village. They weren’t here. They were among those who swam away to the land last night. If correct, there were 13 passengers (including men, women and children) left the ferry in the middle of the night. The captain and his wife were also among those who swam to the island. I didn’t know how and why they dared to swim away because I was somehow sleeping.

ocean accidentWe could see no island at all that morning. The men untied one of the long woods lying along the outrigger, and then tied it straight up into the air. The blue lavalava was hung from the top of that wood. The lavalava acted as a flag that would help us easily seen from the distance. While the men were working on this flag pole, the young girls and two older women were just swimming around – much like playing. The men spent hours to finish the work. After midday, the pole was fixed firmly with ropes. Unfortunately, the two women who swam around with the younger girls were nowhere to be seen. They were not found at all though the search was conducted around the spot.

Last night, a child also died. I believed that he died from swallowing plenty of water mixed with diesel - as the sea around us was now mixed with diesel from the ferry engine. The situation became worse with diesel all around us. Thus the waves kept throwing us off and into the sea.

A woman near me asked what village I would go to. I told her that it was Toora village. When she heard that, she asked me that we had to go now. I calmed and reminded her that we certainly could not go to Toora village as we were still in the middle of the ocean. Why did she say that? I knew that stress, fear, confusion and anxiety had been overwhelming to some of the passengers. Later the woman tried to feed (breastfeed) her child of about two years old. Others asked the woman if she could feed the other child who was still alive. The woman agreed but that child refused. There were now only two children remained alive.

Before dark, a few boys assayed to swim ashore. We told them not to but they also did not listen. They said that the island was close though we could see no island at all. Yes, passengers had been acting so strangely. The boys left the ferry. Not long, they returned to the ferry saying that they saw a big fish on their way. As night fell, the light of Tarawa island was seen again in the distance.

The night was accompanied with shouts of horror and strange voices from the passengers. Yes, this happened due to anxiety, fear and confusion. Another woman who was beside me would always pull me down every time the waves hit us. Even her husband (who was also among those remained in the ferry) was affected as well. I knew that both were weak and needed much help but I could not do anything for them - especially the woman. I managed to offer more help to the child who was also beside me. At midnight hours, I lost account of what happened as I fell asleep again. I was dreaming again and in my dream, I was informed that the next day would be a very fine day with plenty of rain and the boat would come to rescue us.

Next part : Ocean Accident – Uean Te Raoi (6) 

Categories: True Stories