Thiruvananthapuram: Alexandar hung to the boat and his dear life for four long days, but he gave in yesterday morning. Shilva Kurishu, from Adimalathura in Ambalathinmoola teared up as he recounted how he lost his friend Alexandar in Cyclone Ockhi.
"The helicopter came at 8am to rescue us. If it could have come a little earlier..." Shilva Kurishu was fighting back tears when he said this from his bed in ward number 11 at the medical college.
There were six men in the St. Nicholas boat that had ventured into the sea on Wednesday night; three from Adimalathura and three from Neerodi. Apart from Shilva, Anthonyu Adima, Mary Dasan, Christudas, Anthony Piche and Alexandar were also on the boat.
When strong wind toppled their boat, they fell into the sea. But they managed to cling on to the boat from the coir ropes on its ridge.
But wind and rain gained strength and Anthony Piche died soon after. "We kept the body in the boat for three days. When it started bloating, we had no other option but to leave it in the sea," Shilva said.
They survived by using their towels to soak in rainwater and then squeezing the water into their mouths. They were bitten by fish all over their bodies.
After four days, Alexandar became completely exhausted. Enough, he said, and took his hands off the rope. By 8 in the morning, they spotted a rescue helicopter and waved their towels and vests at it. A water bottle tied to a rope came first, and then the lifeline, a ladder.