Kiribati fisherman survives 106 days adrift

MAJURO, Marshall Islands, Sept 14, 2012 (AFP) - A Kiribati fisherman who drifted in the central Pacific for nearly four months has been found alive and asking for cigarettes, a Marshall Islands fishing vessel reported Friday.

Toakai Teitoi was healthy but a friend who had sailed with him from Maiana Atoll in the island nation of Kiribati on May 28 had died, fisheries observer Ali Ezekiah said in a radio message from the rescue vessel to an onshore agent.

Teitoi was found on his 15-metre boat on September 11 by the fishing vessel Marshalls 203 in waters northeast of Nauru.

"When the crew brought him on to the fishing boat and asked him what he wanted, the first thing he said was 'smoke'", Ezekiah said as the Marshalls 203 headed back to Majuro. It was due in port at the weekend.

Teitoi told the Marshalls 203 crew his boat had suffered engine trouble and he had survived by eating fish and drinking rainwater. His friend had died on July 4, he said.

The record for drifting at sea is believed to be held by two fishermen, also from Kiribati, who were at sea for 177 days before coming ashore in Samoa in 1992.