'Salamat Vietnam’: Adrift at sea for 17 days, rescued Filipino says thanks

By Nguyen Quy   May 8, 2020 | 10:00 pm PT
'Salamat Vietnam’: Adrift at sea for 17 days, rescued Filipino says thanks
Anding Nadie Repil (blue T-shirt) poses for a photo with Vietnamese fishermen who rescued him while catching seafood on April 17, 2020. Photo by Pham Kha.
A Filipino man thrown overboard by a boat collision survived for 17 days at sea before being saved by Vietnamese fishermen.

The man survived by clinging on to a plastic can and eating seaweed, local reports say.

On Friday night, an interpreter from the Department of Foreign Affairs of Binh Dinh Province in central Vietnam said he was able to contact with the son of Anding Nadie Repil, who was rescued April 17.

"Repil could not hide his joy and burst into tears when talking to his son after more than a month of losing contact," the interpreter said.

The 52-year-old man said that at 7 p.m. on March 19, he went fishing alone on a boat from the port of Candria in the Philippines. Around 10 p.m. the same day, he had fallen asleep when his boat was hit and sunk by an unnamed cargo ship, throwing him overboard. The collision took place around 25 miles off the coast of the Philippines.

"I was wearing a life jacket. When the boat sank I could only hug a plastic can and began to drift," Repil said. He floated thus at sea for 17 nights. He said there were times when he tried to call for help, but in the middle of the sea no one could hear his voice. He managed to survive by munching on seaweed.

"On April 5, I thought I would perish at sea when a small Vietnamese boat appeared. But this small-capacity boat could not accommodate many people and it was heading out to sea for fishing, so the Vietnamese fishermen onboard gave me a basket boat and some food," he recounted.

On April 17, while catching seafood off the coast around 180 nautical miles off Quy Nhon Town in Binh Dinh Province, crew members of another fishing boat found the Filipino man floating at sea.

The rescued him, took him to their boat, fed him and helped him get warm. Later, they took him ashore and handed him over to authorities in Binh Dinh Province.

The Filipino man was given medical care and accommodation. Local authorities are completing procedures to hand him over to the Philippines Embassy on May 12 so that he can return home.

"When the Vietnamese fishermen rescued me, I was very touched and could only cry. I have a wife and four children, I have not made contact with them for so long. Now I only want to get home," Repil said. He placed his hands on his chest and repeated "Salamat (Thank you) Vietnam" many times in gratitude.

This is not the first time Vietnamese fishermen have rescued Filipinos stranded at sea.

Last year, fishermen from the Mekong Delta province of Tien Giang made world headlines after rescuing 22 Filipino fishermen whose boat sank after a collision with a Chinese boat near the Reed Bank of Vietnam’s Truong Sa (Spratly) Archipelago in the East Sea, internationally known as the South China Sea.

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