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Stories From Kiribati


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Ocean Accident - Uean Te Raoi (6)

Posted by Amota Eromanga on October 26, 2012 at 7:00 PM


This was our fourth day in the ocean. I told the passengers about the dream I had last night - of a fine day with plenty of rain and that two boats would come to get us. They weren’t interested in my story as it was only a dream. All that they knew was help that hadn’t yet arrived.

As I looked around, I saw the woman sitting alone on the outrigger part. I asked about her child and she sadly told me that her baby had died. Poor child! At the rear of the ferry, I saw young girls swimming and the body of another child beside them. I recognized the dress of that little child – she belonged to the couple whom they were no longer among the passengers. I asked the girls to bring her to me. She was not breathing. We offered first aid of chest compressions and put air through her mouth. Then she began breathing - yes our effort had saved her. I could feel the grip of her hands so I held her in my arms. I now was in charge of that poor little girl as her parents disappeared last night.

Ocean Accident - Uean Te RaoiThe morning looked fine. The sea and the wind seemed a lot better compared to the other days. All of a sudden the girls shouted, “An island!” As I turned, I could see the island. It was Tarawa and was much closer this time. I then told the passengers that we possibly could reach the shore if we all paddled. They just gazed at me without any willing efforts. It was obvious from their faces that they were too weak to paddle or to do anything. I shouted to those at the outrigger to paddle but they just stared back at me. Everyone was indeed weak and they just could not do anything I said. They all seemed to be sleeping.

I felt quite alright with enough energy. Maybe because of the rest (sleep) I had last night. If right, the mast and the lavalava somehow helped the ferry to move towards the island as we seemed to be getting closer. A girl beside me seemed strong enough and she was the one who kept steering the ferry to the island. I sat there holding that little girl with me.

After awhile, more passengers decided to leave the ferry this time. They thought that they could reach the island a lot quicker if they started leaving - since only few hours of the morning had just passed. We warned them that it was a bad idea to swim away as they were surely weak. It was better for them if they stayed at the ferry and waited for help. They did not listen so the four of them swam away. There were six of them altogether including two girls who left the ferry earlier that same morning. Nothing could change their minds.

Now there were fewer left behind at the ferry. We kept looking at the horizon for any signs of help, but we could see none. Without expecting anything, a boat suddenly appeared. We all shouted, “We are alive!” The rescue had finally arrived. It wasn’t a dream – it was real. The boat had finally found us. We couldn’t explain how happy and thankful we were!

Instead of taking us, the boat went and asked another fishing boat close by for assistance. Now two boats were around us. The fishermen helped us onto their boats and began heading to the island. On our way, the other boat found one of the two girls who left the ferry ahead of the other group. Sadly the other girl could not be found. The two boats could not spend much time searching for the other passengers who recently left the ferry because they did not have enough fuel. If they went further into the search, they we would run out of gas. So the boats just headed to the island.

On the boat, the fishermen gave us water to drink. The little child drank first then the rest of us. For our health safety we were advised to drink enough water since we had been without drink for days. When we got to the land, the police and took us to the hospital immediately. At the hospital we were given medical check and help.

While at the hospital, we heard that another group of the passengers had just been found. The group was also taken to our hospital. Yes, it was the last group (of four passengers) that swam away from the ferry just before the boat came to our rescue. There were 16 of us altogether at the hospital. We had survived this tragic ocean accident.

Later that same day, more passengers were found, but unfortunately they were dead. We knew that they were our friends who abandoned the ferry to swim to the island. Some were still missing up to this time of the story.

Related story The First Three Swimmers

Categories: True Stories