Fisherman rescued after 31-day ordeal at sea
Watched father-in-law and son perish at sea
Story and pics by Augustine Fernando
42-year-old Warnakulasriya Fernando, a fisherman from Trincomalee went through the nightmarish experience of having to watch his son and father-in-law die before his eyes, after their boat developed engine trouble and drifted on the high seas for 31 days.
He was ultimately rescued by a group of Bangladeshi fishermen. Speaking to the Sunday Times Fernando described the nightmare he went through battling the blazing heat during the day, the cold at night and having to throw overboard the bodies of his son and father-in-law. On June 23rd accompanied by his father-in-law and son, Fernando left Trincomalee on a normal day’s fishing. On their return journey the engine malfunctioned and the boat began to drift.
Fernando who survived the ordeal and his family. below Fernando’s son Anthony Rushan and father-in law Calistus
“As the boat drifted we were filled with fear” he said. “Soon we ran out of drinking water which too added to our woes. After two days we sighted a navy boat which unfortunately passed us by. By the third day we were extremely hungry and thirsty,” he said.
Fortunately it rained and the trio were able to collect a stock drinking water. But the heat caused their bodies to break out in blisters. “My father-in-law died in my hands” he said. “We could not bear it, but were forced to dump his body into the sea.
However we still had faith God would save us” he said.“Thereafter we had a few welcome showers of rain and were able to replenish our stock of water.“But soon after this the heat got worse and my son broke out in blisters once again.
“He realised he would not survive and asked me to throw his body into the ocean as we had done with his grandfather’s body” he said. “When my son died it was I who had to throw his body overboard. There was none to share my grief with” he lamented.
“Three days after my son died I observed a ship coming in the direction of my boat. I expected it would crush the boat and closed my eyes expecting the worst, but it passed by harmlessly” he said.
“Around 15 days later I was spotted by some fishermen who spoke an unknown tongue. However I was able to understand they were from Bangladesh.
Fernando said he was able to speak to his relatives from Bangladesh and was eventually handed over to Sri Lankan embassy personnel who facilitated his return His wife Rosemary told the Sunday Times they held a funeral service for their son at a local cemetery though his body was not found.
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