Nearly 20 hours after their boat capsized outside the reef, fishermen Henry Blesam and Jerome Sakurai were rescued. They were reported missing after they failed to return home before 6 pm, their usual time on Friday, September 9. The search for the missing fishermen commenced after receiving the report at 6 pm.
“We are very fortunate and grateful,” the relieved fisherman Henry Blesam said, “Ng meral mesaul a Rubak!” Recounting his experience, Blesam said their boat overturned after a sudden but brief squall at around 10 am on Friday. Blesam and Sakurai climbed on the overturned boat and stayed until their rescue the next day.
Bureau of Public Safety’s Division of Maritime Security and Fish & Wildlife, in collaboration with Koror State Government Rangers, private boat owners, and family members, searched until midnight and called off the search until the following day.
The following day, Sea Dragon Aircraft was dispatched around 6 am to search for the missing men and spotted the fishermen sitting on top of their capsized boat at about 8 am west of Kloulbad. Marine Law dispatched rescue boats to pick them up.
As of last night, both fishermen were home, doing well considering their ordeal. “Everything we had, our food, water, and bags, were lost, but all that time under the hot sun, we never felt thirsty,” said Blesam, counting his blessings.
Vice President and Minister of Justice J. Uduch Sengebau-Senior expressed her elation that the fishermen were found alive and well. “I prayed through the night,” said the Vice President, who felt deeply for the men and their families. “Ak meral relieved!” she added.
She said she reached out to Jennifer Anson, the National Security Coordinator, to deploy the Sea Dragon, which was dispatched first thing in the morning.
“Ng meral ngarngii a belkul a training,” Vice President Senior said of the value of training, especially the search and rescue and joint training exercises that have been going on.
National Security Coordinator Anson echoed the same sentiments saying that this was not the first incident that the Sea Dragon has helped. “Sometimes, when on the water, it is difficult for boats to see well, but an aircraft like Sea Dragon greatly enhances the capability of search and rescue to see what’s out there.”
Mr. Blesam confirmed this, saying they could see boats passing by them and flashlights coming close, but searchers couldn’t see them.
“This month of September is the national preparedness month,” said Vice President Senior, pleased to see the outcome of preparedness and training.
Vice President Senior expressed her heartfelt appreciation to all who participated in the search and rescue, especially Koror State Rangers, private boats, pilots of Sea Dragon aircraft, and family members who assisted with the search and rescue of the fishermen.