updated 1/4/2005 7:02:24 AM ET 2005-01-04T12:02:24

Four Indonesian fishermen were found alive on a boat that had drifted north to a remote Indian Ocean island after a tsunami devastated their homeland, the Indian coast guard said Monday.

The men were rescued by the coast guard on Saturday off Campbell Bay, said Anil K. Pokhariyal, commander of the coast guard ship. They were brought to a jetty at Port Blair, capital of the Indian archipelago of Andaman and Nicobar islands, on Monday.

Pokhariyal said they were at sea when the 9 magnitude earthquake struck the Indonesian island of Sumatra on the morning of Dec. 26, setting off powerful tsunamis that have killed at least 139,253 people in 11 Asian and African nations.

The men were already stranded before the tsunami hit, as their engine had broken down, Pokhariyal told The Associated Press. He said they had been adrift for nine days before they were spotted by a reconnaissance helicopter on New Year’s Day.

“They were on a wooden dinghy,” he said. “They waved to us and gestured in sign language, asking for food.” He aid the men had tied a cloth to a post, in an effort to make a sail.

Pokhariyal said the four men were in shock, gesturing to communicate, as they could speak little English or Hindi.

One of them, who identified himself as Jasmi, said he had learned a few words in Hindi from his nieces who lived in New Delhi, India’s capital.

He tried to explain, in broken Hindi and gestures, that the boat had broken down and they had no fish or water. He said they came from Sabang Banache in Sumatra.

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