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Forced to Steal From Californians, They Say : Women Didn't Share Food--Boatmen

September 23, 1985|From Reuters

JAKARTA, Indonesia — Two Southern California women who spent three weeks adrift in a small boat off Indonesia stopped sharing food with their two Indonesian boatmen, forcing them to live on rainwater and morsels they stole from the women, the crewmen said today.

The boatmen, Simin and Jasmin, told the Sinar Harapan newspaper that the women stopped offering them food after a few days and they had to survive mostly on rainwater until the boat drifted ashore in Sumatra on Sept. 6.

"Rather than die of starvation, we snatched food from their bag," Simin said.

Rickey Berkowitz and Judy Schwartz, both 26 and from Rancho Palos Verdes, and the two men disappeared in the Sunda Straits on Aug. 17 after setting out in an open boat from West Java for an island game reserve near Krakatau volcano.

Simin, 25, and Jasmin, 30, said they ate only for five days while the women had food for the first 13 days of their ordeal. The two men--who were hospitalized with dehydration after their rescue, said they hardly talked to the women because of language problems.

The women, who did not need hospitalization, told a news conference they had supplies of peanuts, pineapple, bread and eggs for 10 days. They then survived on dabs of toothpaste and rainwater.

They admitted they had communications problems with the Indonesians, particularly on the question of rationing.

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