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Stories From Kiribati


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Ocean Accident - Uean Te Raoi (2)

Posted by Amota Eromanga on October 6, 2012 at 10:40 PM


When the ferry capsized:

I tried to swim out from beneath the ferry and when I finally shot into the air, I saw that many passengers were already floating around. Some were still struggling to get out and finally appeared on water. But I also knew that few were still below the ferry. I heard passengers shouting to restore the ferry again. But nobody attempted to as they were too busy trying to help those who were still stuck underneath. Those who had managed to get out, started to climb onto the back as well as onto the outrigger of the capsized ferry.

I was very lucky as my brother was with me. He helped me onto the back of the ferry and told me not to leave there. Then he said to me that he was going to swim to the island to call for the rescue. I told him not to but he said it was the best thing for all of us. “When I get to the island, I will inform people that you are in danger” he said. I asked him if he was strong enough to swim that far and he said no problem.

As he and two other men (crew and passenger) started swimming away, three life jackets were freed from the ferry just in time so they were given life jackets to help them swim along. Two more life jackets were restored so two more men (supercargo and passenger) followed the others. Now, there were five of them swimming toward the island of Maiana for our rescue. The rest stayed and waited for help.

The crew dived to get more life jackets and started giving people. I was lucky and thankful to get one as I was a poor swimmer. Unfortunately, not everyone got a life jacket since the other jackets were locked down there inside the cargo hold.

People were still helping those still stuck underneath. A woman was finally set free but she seemed to have been drowning. A spot on her forehead was swollen and dark marks of bruise were on her chin and cheek. The woman’s husband helped her onto the back of the ferry. I asked him if his wife could swim whereby he answered that she was a good swimmer. She was just unfortunate to get stuck when the ferry capsized. He and other passengers tried to offer her help and first aid. But it was very difficult work as the waves would always throw everybody into the sea. The husband did all he could to help his wife until he knew that she was dead. The husband tied her body to the ferry. Her body stayed there until the second night - the time when men had to right the ferry.

A child of about two years old was also stuck underneath. He died down there despite the men’s continuous effort in trying to free him.

Before dark, we still could see the island but we were certain that we had drifted farther. The waves became higher and stronger. Then night fell without any signs of help coming from the island. Later, some said to have seen torch light so we all shouted and blew whistle. But nothing came up. We were surrounded by darkness for hours until the moon appeared. We could see our faces again in the moonlight. The situation was very difficult as the waves kept throwing us into the sea. Thus we kept encouraging each other to keep trying for the next daylight. The children were placed in a better and higher part of the ferry to keep them away from the waves.

There was no intention to right the ferry and we stayed in that unmanageable condition for the whole night long …

Next part : Ocean Accident - Uean Te Raoi (3)

Categories: True Stories

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