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An imminent sea disaster has been averted by the Navy Wing of the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces (RSLAF).
A total of thirty four (34) passengers, who were left stranded in the high seas for three days, were rescued on Saturday 8th January 2011.
The dug-out boat that left Bushra in Conakry Guinea for Susan’s Bay in Freetown at about 6:45pm on Thursday 6th January 2011 suddenly developed an engine failure few hours after take off.
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The water current drifted the boat to an unknown destination and all thirty four passengers, including a lactating mother and her suckling child, were subjected to harsh conditions until the rescue on Saturday.
Shortly after the rescue, Boat Captain Santigie Kargbo, told newsmen that the boat developed engine failure at a place called Salato in the Guinea waters. “During the three hours it took me to get the engine running again, the boat had been drifted by the water current to an unknown destination,” Kargbo explained, adding that “the worst happened when the fuel finished whilst I was trying to get the boat on track”.
Following this, distressed calls were made to the Sierra Leone Broadcasting Cooperation (SLBC) and Radio Islam. These calls were transmitted to the appropriate authorities and the RSLAF Navy Wing dispatched two rescue teams from its Murray Town base in Freetown and Yeliboya base in the Conakry axis.
Authorities say the boat was located in the Sierra Leone waters and the passengers were taken to the Government Wharf in Freetown.
One of the rescued passengers, Morlai Kamara, explained that they survived by eating carrot and drinking salt water during the three days in the high seas, as there was no other means of food for survival.
“All of us in the boat never made provisions for enough food that will last for three days as we had expected the journey from Conakry to Freetown to last for only eight to nine hours,” he said, pointing out that he was only in possession with a loaf of bread.
“We were left with no hope, no food and no water by the time the rescue team arrived,” he said.
The boat was also carrying cargo including onions, carrot and maggi.
By Abdul Karim Kabia