Fishing Crew Stranded in Waters off Russia Rescued After 3 Months

Eleven fishing boat crew who had been stranded since October in a remote part of Russia's Far East have been rescued after sheltering nearly three months at an abandoned military base, according to television and Russian news agency reports.

The eight men and three women took refuge at the base after their small boats collided on Oct. 10 off the southeastern part of the Kamchatka Peninsula, regional Emergency Situations Ministry spokeswoman Olga Mikhailova was quoted as saying by the RIA-Novosti news agency.

"Their attempts to fix one of the boats did not meet success and they had to remain at the derelict base" where there were rudimentary food supplies including flour and cooking fat, Mikhailova was quoted as saying.

Other supplies at the base, which was abandoned in 2003, included Christmas ornaments, and the crew members put them up on a small tree inside their quarters.

But supplies began running low and early this week, five set off on foot across snowy terrain; on Friday, after four days of trudging, they reached a working military radio center, the reports said.

The center called rescuers, and helicopters were sent to take the 11 to Petropavlovsk-Kamchatka, the regional capital.

Television footage showed some of those rescued looking worn, but apparently lucid and ambulatory.

One of them, Igor Frankin, showed TV cameras the pancake-like wads of fried flour on which they had subsisted.

"We haven't had sugar here for a long time; I've forgotten what it is," he said with a smile on NTV television.

None of the rescued were believed to have suffered serious health problems in the ordeal, RIA-Novosti said.

Telephone calls from Moscow to the emergency ministry offices in Petropavlovsk-Kamchatka did not connect on Saturday.