800 fishermen saved off Tenasserim coast

Hundreds of Burmese fishermen found adrift at sea following a heavy storm last week have been rescued and were yesterday brought back to shore in southeastern Burma.

Around 800 men had been drifting for three days after extreme weather tipped several barges and boats off the coast of Tenasserim division on 16 March.

“At first, there were only two people on our barge but other survivors started climbing onto it,” said one fisherman, who was yesterday brought to Tenasserim division’s Kawthaung town, adding that he suspected there had been up to 60 groups of people floating at sea.

“Other people who we saw in the sea are likely to have died – some were clinging on to buckets and some were naked,” he continued.

Most of the survivors are reportedly in good health. One man who has been helping those who made it to Kawthuang said that people were continuing to arrive as of last night and were being given clothing and food.

Authorities are questioning the men, who are being kept at a school until “a five star ship arrives to take them to their homes” which are in the Irrawaddy delta’s Labutta, Hpyarpon and Daydaye townships, the man said. That was likely to happen sometime next week.

The Weekly Eleven news journal said on Monday that around 600 fishermen were drift in the Gulf of Martaban before being rescued by Burmese navy and taken to Rangoon’s Nang Thida port, while other sources put the figure closer to 1000.

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