Two fishermen lost at sea for three weeks were found early this morning by an oil tanker off the coast of Sumatra, Indonesia.
The men, 39 year-old Hassan Rasheed from Maamigili Island in Alif Dhaalu Atoll and 32 year-old Abdulla Waheed from Maavashu Island in Laamu Atoll, went missing May 4 aboard the fishing vessel “Azum”. The two crewmen and the 40 foot light-green fishing boat disappeared after departing from Mulak Island in Meemu Atoll en route to Maavah Island in Laamu Atoll.
“An oil tanker registered in the Marshall Islands, travelling to China, found the two men,” Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) Spokesperson Colonel Abdul Raheem told Minivan News today (May 25).
“They were 987 miles away from the Maldives, 300 miles off the coast of Sumatra, Indonesia,” said Raheem.
The Coast Guard was contacted early this morning at 6:10am and spoke to Hassan Rasheed, explained Raheem.
“After so many days they are in good condition, a bit weak, but OK. It is very good news, we are happy they have been found in good health,” he added.
Raheem was unsure of the reason for the Azum dhoni to drift so far off course.
“I don’t believe their boat would have had fuel after such a long period of time, there also could have been problems with the engine,” he speculated.
“The oil tanker will be stopping in Singapore on May 28 and we’ll try to get them while it’s docked,” said Raheem.
Jaufar Rasheed, Hassan Rasheed’s brother, told local media that he spoke with Hassan today after he called from a Singaporean number.
“He called and said that they had been picked up by a Singapore boat. He could not say how the other was doing. He managed to say that the dhoni sank and the two were castaways on the sea for a long time. He then asked how his wife and child were doing and started crying. Then the call got disconnected,” Jaufar said.
Lost at sea
Earlier this week, a Maldivian national reported missing May 9 after he departed Fares-Maathoda Island in Gaafu Dhaalu Atoll via dinghy was discovered by a foreign vessel 900 miles from Maldivian waters.
The MNDF confirmed Mohamed Falah, a 30 year-old man from Fares-Maathoda had been found in “good condition” by the crew of a foreign vessel travelling to Malaysia.
The MNDF recently “downgraded” search and rescue efforts, by halting aerial operations, to locate four individuals missing at sea.
Although three of the four missing men have now been found, the search continues for Mohamed Sammoon, a 21 year-old surfer from Kolamaafushi Island in Gaafu Alif Atoll.
Sammoon was reported missing around 4:30pm on May 4 after being swept away from the island by the current.
“Still we haven’t given up hope, but this person was different because he was not in a vessel,” said Raheem.
“We recovered his surfboard the first day he went missing, so he will not have anything [to stay afloat] like the others,” he noted.
“His chances are less, but you never know. Even after so long, we are still hoping for the best,” he added.
Government authorities continue to advise members of the public to take precautions during sea travel – particularly over long distances – following the “extreme weather” reported across the Maldives this month.
The MNDF Coast Guard can be contacted through the toll free number 191, 339-8898, 339-5981, or via fax 339-1665, with any information regarding Sammoon.