24 Aug 2006

Marshalls police boss doubts Mexicans' tale of survival

3:47 pm on 24 August 2006

The Marshall Islands police commissioner is raising doubts about the story of three Mexicans who claim to have drifted across the Pacific for more than nine months.

The men left San Blas in Mexico on October the 28th last year and were rescued on August 9th by a Marshall Islands fishing vessel.

Although the crew of the fishing boat said they were skinny and dressed in rags, after two weeks of eating aboard the fishing vessel they looked healthy on arrival in Majuro on Tuesday.

Doctors at Majuro's main hospital found the men to be fit, despite them having swollen feet and ankles.

But Police Commissioner George Lanwi has queried how they could survive that distance - about 8,000 kilometres - in a boat with no canopy.

He says he is suspicious because the men are much healthier than expected.

There are reports from Mexico that the fishermen will investigated for possible involvement in drug smuggling, but Commissioner Lanwi says Mexican government officials in Majuro did not raise the matter with him.