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Life begins again for three Phuket City fishermen rescued adrift at sea

Tears as Phuket Wins Back Three Lost Fishermen

Friday, January 29, 2010
WHEN a person emerges alive from the rubble of Haiti, or the seas off Phuket give back three fishermen who were thought to be lost, hearts sing, and tears of happiness flow.

Such a moment, one that will be cherished forever by three Phuket fishermen, their families and their friends, came last night at Cape Panwa.

Red roses were handed out, HM The King's portrait was held high, Thai flags waved, and one of the men wore a t-shirt with a line that said it all: ''Beyond Description.''

The moment could have been so very . Gaunt fisherman Sanchai Pinmek, 35, greeted by about 30 delighted villagers from Saphan Hin when he stepped ashore last night, told them: ''Our food and water ran out two days ago. We didn't think we would survive.''

A Royal Thai Navy helicopter, part of a search that continued with the pleading of the Saphan Hin villagers, spotted the men's fishing boat way beyond Thai waters, west of Racha Noi, about 4pm yesterday.

The men from the village in Phuket City set out last Friday, and were due back on Sunday. But the engine of the nine-metre vessel gave up and could not be restarted.

''We tried to encourage each other," Khun Sanchai said. ''In that time I just tried to think about my wife and my child.

''I didn't think we would survive much longer without food or water.''

Ketsorn Robkob, the wife of rescued fisherman Pawin Sangsorn, 26, could not find words to praise the navy enough for its resolve in finding the men.

''Without the help of the Third Navy, I would never have seen my husband again,'' she said. ''I haven't been able to sleep since Sunday, and it is just so good to see them all again.''

On Thursday afternoon, villagers had been praying at the local temple, half in hope, half in despair. Then the good news came that Patrol Boat 218 had fetched them from international waters.

The Deputy Commander of Phuket's Third Navy, Rear Admiral Supot Sudprasert, was on the dock last night to greet captain Lieutenant Sathaporn Payoungsuwan and the patrol boat's crew.

The happiness of last night's reunion was tinged with the knowledge that others will probably not be as fortunate.

Another boat from the village sank off Phuket's east coast about 10pm on Wednesday and rescuers were only able to find three of the five men who were on board.

The small Saphan Hin fishing community lives close to Phuket City's landmark incinerator.
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Comments

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These fishing boats are often in deplorable condition and devoid of the most basic emergency and communications gear.

I've been rescued from shipwrecks several times over my sailing career, each time only due to radio and EPIRB, life vests and emergency rations. When will the Thai authorities teach the boatmen proper safety procedures and inspect and certify their ricketty vessels?

Posted by CatpnHook on January 29, 2010 13:33


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