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Fiji Time: 4:53 AM on Wednesday 3 September

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6 rescued at sea

Torika Tokalau And Jone Luvenitoga
Sunday, March 30, 2014

SIX men who were reported missing at sea on Friday have been found.

They were rescued by the inter-island vessel MV Namara at 8am yesterday after the wife of one of the men alerted the authorities following a phone call she received from her husband.

Henry Osbourne, one of the six men, said they had left Kadavu with their catch on Thursday night, heading towards Nukulau Island under smooth sailing conditions. On Friday morning, the condition at sea started to change, he said.

Mr Osbourne said the 24-feet fibreglass boat they were travelling in capsized, leaving them with only floaters, lifejackets and drums to cling onto.

"We were taken by surprise when the sea started getting rough. The wind direction changed a couple of times, picking up in speed and force," he said.

"We could see the coastal areas around Vatuwaqa and Laucala but strong currents swept us out and away to open waters.

"We made sure we remained in a circle and swam together while keeping a close eye on each other."

Mr Osbourne said they clung to what they had salvaged from the boat and onto each other for the whole night until they were picked up by the inter-island vessel that spotted the group floating a few kilometres from Beqa Island.

Tucking into plates of chicken and cassava at the Handicraft Centre foodstall in Suva as soon as they got to shore at about 2pm yesterday, Mr Osbourne said the men were lucky and blessed to be safe again.

"We had gone on dozens of fishing trips for the past 10 years with every trip taken with safety precautions and measures.

"This is the first time we have encountered that unpredictable pattern of weather," he said.

Police spokeswoman Ana Naisoro said the police force was grateful for everyone's support during the search and rescue effort.


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