Video: Fishermen's survival story questioned

updated 8/25/2006 8:07:26 AM ET 2006-08-25T12:07:26

The Mexican government on Thursday reversed its decision to investigate three fishermen’s claims that they spent nine months adrift on the Pacific Ocean and survived by drinking rain water and eating raw fish.

Ruben Aguilar, President Vicente Fox’s spokesman, said that unless a formal complaint was filed the government would not open an investigation. Aguilar had told reporters earlier in the week that “without a doubt there has to be an investigation.”

Salvador Ordonez, Jesus Vidana, and Lucio Rendon told authorities they had set out on Oct. 28, 2005, from San Blas, a coastal town about 410 miles northwest of Mexico City, to fish for sharks. But mechanical problems and adverse winds quickly pushed their 27-foot boat out to sea.

They were rescued Aug. 9 near the Marshall Islands, about 5,500 miles to the west. They said two other men on the boat had died during the ordeal.

The men’s story grabbed worldwide attention but many in the Mexican media have speculated the men might be drug smugglers who made up their account to avoid prosecution. There are no records of their departure, and some relatives initially said they had been gone for only three months.

The fishermen have become instant folk heroes in Mexico and the Mexican Council of Bishops has called them an example of faith.

It started on fishing trip
Their ordeal began when they set out with the boat's owner and another man on an expedition they expected to last a few days. Mother Nature had other plans.

A cold front swept in and a strong wind dragged the boat out to sea, they said. As the men struggled to turn toward islands they could see in the distance, they ran out of gas. They prayed to drift back to Mexico before their food and water ran out.

Instead, the prevailing currents apparently pushed their boat all the way across the Pacific. With no shelter onboard, the men protected themselves from the sun with blankets and set about doing what they knew best: fishing. They crafted lines from cables and hooks from springs in the boat's motor.

"We straightened them and made hooks," Rendon said in an interview Tuesday with the Televisa network. "There were times when we caught four, five fish, and at times nothing."

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