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Castaway fisherman, 20, rescued after three weeks survived on coconuts, bananas and raw fish

españaBy Richard Shears for MailOnline

Updated: 15:24 EDT, 8 September 2010




Alone, desperate and helpless Benedict Jor sits on his upturned boat as a rescue ship draws near to rescue him after he drifted for three weeks.

The 20-year-old castaway from Papua New Guinea had survived at first on coconuts and bananas before his tiny craft flipped over and he had to crawl on to the hull.

And there for the next two weeks he sat, hoping for rescue, turning his face to the occasional rain squall for water and eating raw fish he had managed to catch with the line he had held on to.

St Andrew Strait, just off Papua New Guinea, was where Benedict Jor, 20, was stranded

It was by sheer luck that he was spotted by an Australian container ship as he drifted in the St Andrew Strait off Papua New Guinea, north of the Australian continent.

The crew of the ship Wangaratta, travelling from China to Melbourne, hauled him on board, where he burst into tears of relief.

‘Thank you, thank you, I thought I was going to die,’ he said in his broken English.

‘I gave up hope of being rescued.’

Officials in Papua New Guinea have now sent a cheerful message to his family in his small village of Noga, near Rabaul, who had feared the worst as the weeks went by without any sign of him.

Fishermen from Papua New Guinea frequently run into trouble when they put out to sea in flimsy wooden boats powered by worn-out motors.

Mr Jor had set out from his village to fish for tuna, but a change in wind and currents swept his boat out to sea and after several days drifting the craft flipped over in choppy seas.

‘Several boats passed me by but they didn’t see me,’ Mr Jor told his rescuers.

Mr Jor was treated in the ship’s hospital for hypothermia, dehdration and shock and it is now planned that the vessel will take him from Melbourne to Sydney, where he will pass through immigration and where consular officials will arrange for him to be flown home.

From the decks of the Wangaratta after it had docked in Melbourne he stared in amazement at the city lights.

‘I’ve never seen anything like this because I grew up in a small village,’ he said.

The Wangaratta’s captain, Stephen Allaker, said that when Mr Jor was first seen there were fears he might not have been alone when his craft capsized.

‘We were initially concerned that we could only see a lone person, but he was able to assure us he had been on his own throughout the ordeal,’ said Captain Allaker.

The rescue operation had been difficult because it involved turning the fully-laden 850ft container ship around and then bringing it to within 150ft of Mr Jor’s upside-down boat.

A lifebuoy was thrown to him and, clinging to it, he jumped into the sea.

‘We were then able to pull him to the ship’s ladder,’ said Captain Allaker.

A spokesman for the shipping company that operates the Wangaratta said Mr Jor had been lucky to have been in the shipping channel in the middle of the day. If he’d been there at night he would have been in danger of either being run down or not noticed by the crew.

Mr Jor repeatedly thanked his rescuers. ‘I want to thank them for what they have done for me and I thank God for them,’ he said.

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