The six Filipino seamen
who survived a harrowing shipwreck off the coast of South Africa last May 3
have now returned home to tell of their harrowing experience.
The seafarers arrived from South Africa
aboard an Emirates Airways flight via Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
They were escorted by their manning company crewing manager Capt. German Mendez
The seamen- Sherie Montano, Allan Omol, Elizer Paulino, Aljess Miranda, Antonio Vergara, and Lee Alemanya
were all smiles after eventually arriving on the flight
which was delayed for almost 20 hours
because of the strong winds brought by tropical storm "Caloy."
Omol, who is the highest ranking personnel among the survivors,
spoke in behalf of the group.
He recounted that their ship, the bulk carrier "MV Alexandros T,"
was sailing some 300 miles off of the coast of Port Elizabeth in South Africa
and on its way to China from Brazil when they encountered heavy seas.
According to Omol, at 8 a.m. on May 3,
he heard a loud explosion underneath the ship
which was followed by a strong vibration.
He immediately went to the engine room to check
and was surprised to find out
that everyone in "Cargo Hold 6" were busy pumping out water.
Omol, whose shift wasn't due to start until noon,
went back to his cabin to rest as everything seemed to be under control.
By the time Omol reported to work at 12 noon,
the ship was already listing Port
and he saw most of the crew members pumping out the water
from Cargo Holds 6, 7, and 8.
At around 6 p.m., the crew was ordered to don life vests
and report to their assigned life boats for a possible evacuation.
During that time, the swells in the Indian Ocean
got bigger and bigger and battered the ailing ship.
At around 9 p.m., an extremely big wave hit the ship
which washed the five seamen (all except Montano) off the boat
and into the rough sea.
Just 10 seconds after the crew were washed overboard,
Omol recounted that they saw the big ship snap in the middle
and immediately sank to the bottom of the ocean.
The five seafarers held on to each other
as they endured the 16C ocean as well as the big swells that battered them.
Floating for nearly an hour in the cold waters,
the group saw an empty lifeboat drifting towards them.
After a few minutes of swimming,
all five were able to get out of the water
and into the comparativly warm lifeboat.
Using the survival kit inside the lifeboat,
Omol was able to signal for emergency
which made it possible for the crew of another ship to locate and rescue them.
The crew of MV Fortune Express were able to pull them out of the water
just before 10 p.m.