Somalis rescued after 8 days adrift

July 5, 2010 12:00 am

, MUMBAI, Jul  5 – Seven Somali fishermen are recovering in India after surviving a pirate attack and being cast adrift at sea for more than a week without food or water, the defence ministry said on Monday.

Local fishermen alerted the coastguard in Veraval, in northwest Gujarat state, on Friday when they spotted a small boat drifting about 15 nautical miles off shore.

Coastguard and naval police were sent to intercept the vessel, where they found the men weak from dehydration and malnutrition, the ministry said in a statement from Mumbai.

They were given drinking water and fish, which they ate raw, before the boat was towed ashore and the men taken to hospital for treatment, it added.

"Preliminary investigations revealed that the crew was engaged in fishing off Somalia when they were attacked on June 24 by Somali militants, who manhandled the crew and damaged the boat\’s engine, the statement said.

"They also looted their fishing gear and communication equipment. The crew drifted out at high sea with current and wind using a handmade sail of synthetic awnings.

"They survived on rain water, while eating algae growth on the boat till they were rescued on July 2 by the Indian Coast Guard."

Defence ministry spokesman Captain M. Nambiar said the matter was now in the hands of local police and immigration.

"It\’s quite a surprising thing to go from the coast of Somalia to this place," he told AFP.

"I\’ve never heard of such a thing before. They must be applauded for their will to survive."

Veraval is about 2,100 miles (3,400 kilometres) from the Somali capital Mogadishu.

Piracy is a major problem off the coast of lawless Somalia and the horn of Africa, with heavily-armed militants hijacking commercial ships for ransom.

An international flotilla of warships has been patrolling the Gulf of Aden, which is one of the world\’s busiest maritime routes.


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