Flying fish and a movie help save 4 people lost at sea

AP News
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Posted: May 13, 2016 12:16 PM
Flying fish and a movie help save 4 people lost at sea

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — A Spanish couple, a Malaysian woman and a man from Hong Kong who spent 10 days adrift at sea together say they survived by eating flying fish that landed in their small boat and distilling seawater using a technique one of them saw in a movie.

The Spaniards were with the Hong Kong-born owner of a Malaysian resort and a resort employee when a freak wave capsized their boat just off the Malaysian coast on May 2. They managed to right the boat and bail it out but they were unable to restart the motor. The food and water they had aboard were lost.

Marta Miguel, who was with her partner David Hernandez, told Spain's COPE radio station Friday that three flying fish landed in the boat on the third night.

"Up to the sixth or seventh day, we didn't have anything else to eat," she said.

One of the survivors had the idea of eating clams stuck to the bottom of the boat and mussels encrusted on a passing piece of flotsam, which provided more nourishment, she said.

They got drinking water thanks to her recollection from a movie.

"I recalled seeing something about a castaway who had to do this thing to drink water. I wasn't certain whether it was from evaporation or the water, but seeing as we had so much time on our hands we made it up as we went along," Miguel said.

They used a cellphone screen and a plastic bag to catch evaporating water, according to Miguel. "Doing it every 15 minutes, we were each able to have a drink once an hour," she told COPE.

The two Spaniards were weakened but in relatively good health, Miguel's father, Luis Miguel, told Spanish National Radio.

Ali Hassan Mohamad Dusi said his daughter Armelia, the resort employee, told him she was in good health apart from being sunburnt. Tommy Lam Wai Yin was the resort owner.

Hernandez told COPE the four never lost hope, even though many vessels and an airplane passed close by, apparently without seeing them or realizing they were in trouble.

He said they felt "fear and frustration" that their families had no news of them. "We were more afraid of that than for ourselves," he said.

TV images showed them smiling Friday as they got off a plane and met family members in the Malaysian city of Kota Kinabalu after being rescued by two Vietnamese fishing boats off Borneo island.

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This version corrects that that the Spaniards got off the plane Friday, not Tuesday.

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Barry Hatton in Lisbon, Portugal contributed to this report.