A man survived four days at sea after falling off a fishing vessel 370 km away from the shore.
Tran Van Viet from the Mekong Delta’s Kien Giang Province, and 17 crewmembers went to sea on the Ngoc Loi fishing vessel in the delta’s Ben Tre Province in mid-May on a fishing expedition.
At around 7 p.m. on June 1 with the vessel 370 km away from land, Viet went to the back of the ship to take a shower, but slipped and fell into the sea. He screamed for help, but the engine was too loud and nobody noticed.
“I was in the middle of the ocean with nothing to hold onto. I tried to swim to places with lights, hoping a vessel would come and save me. I swam and swam, but never got to any destination,” he said.
Viet, a seaman with 27 years of experience, thought all hope was lost.
He said the only thing that kept him going was the image of his wife and two children waiting for him at home. So he tried to keep himself afloat amid the current.
With nothing to eat and temperatures low, Viet survived on a few drops of rain.
“When the thirst became too much, I had to drink a few gulps of seawater,” Viet said, adding that he ran out of stamina and lost consciousness after two nights, but miraculously never sank. When he opened his eyes, he was still floating.
After four days and three nights, Viet fell unconscious but was fortunately rescued by a vessel from Phan Rang in the central coast.
Le Van Thuan, captain of the Phan Rang vessel, said crew members saw Viet floating on June 4, about 65 km from Phu Quy Island. He was face down, though his head was slightly tilted to the side.
When Viet was brought onto the vessel, though he was breathing, he was very weak and suffering multiple injuries caused by sea animals.
“His mouth and tongue was inflamed, his eyes were red and would not stay open,” Thuan said, adding that crew members cleaned, fed and kept him warm.
Viet woke up around one hour later and told the crew what happened.
He was transported to Phu Quy Island and handed to border guards. He was then taken to a medical center, and locals donated personal items and money to him so he could return home.
Chau Thi Ngoc Ngan, a local, said she went on social media to ask for donations and raised over VND223 million ($9,495) in two days to help Viet.
Viet used VND11 million to get home. The rest of the money is expected to be spent on building a new house for his family. He was discharged on June 6, and reunited with his family the next day.
“I never thought I would survive. I don’t know how to pay back everyone for saving my life,” Viet said, adding that he plans to find a job on land once he is fully recovered.