Asian Tsunami Heros

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Saved by a broken boat and coconuts

TSUNAMI survivor Ari Afrizal has told how he drifted on the Indian Ocean for two weeks, living on coconuts that he prised open with his teeth. The 21-year-old floated on pieces of wood, then a broken boat, and finally a fishing raft, while all the time he prayed. A container ship, Al Yamamah, spotted him on Sunday, hauled him aboard and brought him to Malaysia. Ari, 21, was working on a construction site in the Indonesian province of Aceh on Boxing Day when the earthquake hit and the resulting tsunami swept him and his friends away. Ari, who appeared fit despite the ordeal, said they were swept out to sea and clung onto passing pieces of wood. "I recall seeing four of my friends hanging onto wood but we drifted away from each other as the waves rolled us out further into the sea," he said. "I prayed and prayed. I told God I don’t want to die ... I worried about my elderly parents and asked for a chance to take care of them," he said. "As if my prayers were answered, a broken sampan (boat) floated toward me a few days later." On the fifth day, he saw a huge fishing raft and swam out to it, thinking he would be rescued. But the raft was unmanned. It contained, however, some bottles of fresh water. He ate coconuts that he found floating in the sea, husking the soft ones with his teeth.


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