Sat, Aug 19, 2006 - Page 3 News List

`Koo 102' captain tells of rescuing fishermen twice

By Huang Hsu-lei  /  STAFF REPORTER

Yen Ching-shui (顏清水), the captain of the Koo 102 fishing boat that rescued three Mexican fishermen near the Marshall Islands earlier this month, said in an interview via satellite with the Liberty Times (the Taipei Times' sister paper) on Thursday that this was the second time this year that he had saved fishermen in distress.

Yen has been captain of the boat, a 1,200-tonne purse seine fishing boat specializing in yellowfin tuna, for more than five years.

Speaking about the first rescue, Yen said his crew saved two fishermen in Kiribati who had been lost for 60 days in March.

According to Yen, they sighted a small boat with two men about 500m to 1km away when they were looking for fish near the waters of Papua New Guinea on March 5.

Both men and boat were lifted onboard the Koo 102 and the men were fed their first hot meal in two months. Despite the ordeal, both men were still in good health and could both walk and communicate without any problems, Yen said.

The two men, who were stranded because of an engine problem, survived the ordeal by catching fish and gathering rainwater.

After their rescue, they remained on the Koo 102 for almost three weeks, helping out by killing fish, cleaning and doing other light work, Yen said.

The two were then received by officials when the boat moored in Nauru to unload fish.

Then on Aug. 9, when fishing in the waters southwest of Hawaii, Yen's radar detected a 10m long boat about 500m to 600m up ahead of his vessel, Yen said.

On the boat were three men waving their hands in the air.

Yen said that when they picked up the men, the three were only skin and bones and would have died had they not been rescued.

Yen added that when he saw two pieces of luggage on the small boat, he thought they might be hiding weapons and that the three were pirates.

But after six of his crew mem-bers from the Marshall Islands talked to the men in Spanish, they understood that the three were in trouble.

The three men survived by catching sea birds and drinking rainwater.

After a couple of days on the Koo 102, the three had began to put on some weight, Yen said.

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