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Fishermen adrift at sea rescued on Christmas Day
By Manolo B. Jara December 27, 2017
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MANILA: Eleven Filipino fishermen who have been adrift at sea for 13 days when their boat capsized due to storm Kai-tak were rescued by their fellow fishermen off the island province of Samar on Christmas Day, a local official reported on Tuesday.

Manuel Catuday, the disaster rescue officer of the town of Dolores, Samar, said the 11 rescued were among the 16 crewmen of a fishing boat FB Vilmar 1 that capsized in stormy seas when Kai-tak (local name Urduja) battered Eastern Visayas in early December.

Although adrift at sea for less than two weeks and relied only on rainwater for their sustenance, the 11 rescued appeared to “all okay” when brought to the hospital, according to Catuday.

“Their boat capsized but 16 of them were able to hang on for their dear lives by clinging to a big portion of the boat where the big freezer was located that continued to float,” Catuday reported in a mix of Filipino and English.

But as the days passed with apparently no chances of rescue, five of their companions including the boat captain, identified as Freddie Alboro, weakened, lost their grip and were swept away by strong currents, Catuday added, citing the testimonies of the survivors.

He added the boat with its 16 crewmen including Alboro, left the capital city of Tacloban in Leyte in Eastern Visayas on Dec.3 to go fishing in the waters off Mindanao.

The crew were on their way home on Dec.13 when their boat capsized after they encountered strong winds and heavy rain while off the town of Guian in Samar at the height of Kai-tak, Catuday said.

Thus, started a 13-day ordeal at sea with no hope of being rescued until they were spotted morning of Christmas Day by their fellow fishermen off Dolores in Samar, according to Catuday.

Kai-tak cut a wide swath of destruction particularly on the neighboring island provinces of Leyte and Samar including a death toll that totalled close to 50 people, according to officials.

A week later, tropical storm Tembin (local name Vinta) battered wide areas of Mindanao, destroying government infrastructure like roads and bridges, private properties and farms including a total of 240 dead with several others still missing.

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