Published on: Thursday, September 19, 2013
According to the Sabah and Labuan Region Maritime Enforcement and Excise Director Commander Raziee Keding, they received a distress call from the Petronas crew at about 9.20am on Tuesday, alerting them of the discovery of two fishermen.
It was learnt that the duo managed to swim to the Petronas oil rig located off Pulau Mantanani after their 46-feet fishing boat capsized near it, prompting the crew to alert the MMEA. The two have since returned to their village.
Raziee said a search and rescue operation was mounted after they were alerted of three fishermen who were still missing.
"At about 7.15am on Wednesday, a Shell auxiliary police team spotted the trio some five nautical miles away from the Shell St Joseph oil rig off Pulau Mantanani and they have been brought back to the Sabah Ports Jetty here," he said.
All of five fishermen aged between 20 and 45-years, believed to be Filipinos with valid documents, are reported to be in healthy and stable condition.
Meanwhile, family and friends of the trio were seen gathered at the jetty to welcome them home.
One of the rescued men, Romex Nasi, 31, recalled their boat capsizing after it was struck by waves of about two meters high, adding that five of them left Pulau Gaya to go fishing on Sunday.
"Two friends managed to get into a lifeboat but the choppy waves prevented me and two others from reaching them.
"We managed to empty a six-feet fish storage compartment before jumping into it just before our fishing boat started to sink," he said.
He said they drank seawater to stay alive and were so relieved when rescue finally came four days later.
Meanwhile, Shell auxiliary policeman Reduan Bolhi recalled seeing a white floating object about one nautical mile from their patrol boat at about 7.15am on Wednesday.
"I alerted the captain when I saw movement in the floating object before we moved closer to inspect only to discover the three men at about 7.30am.
"We brought them back to the Shell St. Joseph Oil rig before alerting the MMEA," he added.