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Weak and teary-eyed survivor, Mohammed Harif, said yesterday: “I am happy and grateful that I am safe and alive to see my family again.” He was plucked to safety from
03 Jan 2016 14:00
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Fellow fisherman assist (second from left) Harif Mohammad in Waidalice in Tailevu after he was rescued in Naigani water . Photo: RONALD KUMAR.

Weak and teary-eyed survivor, Mohammed Harif, said yesterday: “I am happy and grateful that I am safe and alive to see my family again.”

He was plucked to safety from the sea off the coast of Tailevu with fellow fisherman Josese Druguta after their boat capsized in rough seas whipped up by Tropical Depression (TD 07).

Two of their colleagues, Vijend Singh and Navin Singh, swam to Naigani Island. The fifth, Yakub Khan, 50, was not so lucky. He is still missing. He brings to three the total number of fishermen missing in separate incidents.

The other two missing are Rakiraki fishermen Rajneel Reddy and Nigel Mani.

Mr Harif of Waidalice Settlement, Tailevu, said he survived on sea water before he was rescued with Mr Druguta.

They were rescued by villagers of Burerua in the early hours of Saturday morning. They were then taken to Caqalua Island Resort off the South of Ovalau near the Moturiki passage.

The father of four looked pale and limping relying on Police officers for support as they escorted him out of the boat and taken to Korovou Hospital for observation.

The Minister for Agriculture, Rural and Maritime Development and National Disaster Management, Inia Seruiratu, was also at the scene comforting the two when they got off the boat at Savu River near Naiborebore village in Tailevu.

Mr Harif said they went out fishing on Tuesday afternoon; a day before the cyclone warning was issued to the public.

“We were already at sea when the warning was given but it was too late to turn back our boat.

“I was surviving on sea water for hours as my body was getting weak when we were swimming with the hope of getting to dry land.

“At about 4am Thursday morning; the anchor broke loose from our boat; we started drifting and along the process, a rope got tangled on the engine too which made it difficult for the boat to move.

“Water started getting into the boat also; so we had no choice but to put on our life jackets and get out of the boat; we started swimming and dragging the boat along with us; I was getting weak so I was just drinking sea water so that I can contain myself until we found help,” he said.

Mr Harif said they had to throw out belongings from their boat including $500 worth of fish  they caught during the trip.

His wife, Nazmin Harif could not hold back her tears when she saw her husband and said she was happy to see him.

Meanwhile, 44-year-old Josese Druguta of Burerua Village from Tailevu said he spotted three boats when they were swimming.

“I quickly took one of the life jackets and waved it at them; that’s when they spotted us and came to our rescue;  I just slowly closed my eyes and prayed; thank God for sending help to us.

“They then took us to a nearby island, where we were provided shelter and immediately contacted the family to inform them that we were safe.

“I have learned my lesson after what had happen, next time I will prepare myself well before going out fishing,” he said.

Mr Khan’s  distraught mother, Ram Piyari, 78, said they were still hoping to see him alive.

“We know that he is still alive and we will not give up hope.” Edited by Nemani Delaibatiki

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