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Friday, April 17, 2009

Amzing News: Two survive month at sea in ice box!

Two Burmese fishermen have survived almost a month in shark-infested waters in an ice box after their ship sank.

The men, both aged in their 20s, had been on a 12m Thai wooden fishing boat with 18 others when it sank in heavy seas off Australia's north coast on December 23.

Australian Maritime Safety Authority spokeswoman Tracey Jiggins said: "They had no safety equipment, no beacons, no means of communication and they'd been drifting for 25 days.

"For them to have even been spotted in a huge body of water is amazing."

The men were spotted by an Australian coastal patrol aircraft on Saturday and were winched onto a rescue helicopter and taken to hospital on Thursday Island, off Australia's northern coast.

"They were desperately keen to get on. When they got up they skolled (drank) 2 litres of water each, within seconds," helicopter pilot Terry Gadenne said.

A photograph taken by Customs aircraft showed the pair standing in a high, red-sided ice box used by commercial fishing boats and desperately waving at rescuers.

Hospital officials said the pair were hungry and dehydrated after surviving cyclonic storms in the region, but were recovering well and would be released soon.

The pair would then be questioned by immigration officials and police, who had not yet determined how the pair survived and what they did for food and water.

Ms Jiggins said the others on board the boat would certainly have perished and no search for other survivors was planned.

It was also unclear where the Thai-based fishing boat, crewed by Thais and a handful of Burmese, sank and how far the pair had drifted before they were picked up 60 nautical miles northwest of Horn Island.

Australia has one of the longest coastlines in the world and the country's search-and-rescue patrol zone covers a tenth of the world's surface, or 20 million square miles of the Indian, Pacific and Southern Oceans.

The Torres Strait, between Australia and Papua New Guinea, is infested by sharks and the area is regularly fished by both licensed and illegal fishing vessels, many from Asia.

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