MEXICO CITY — Three Mexicans who survived nine months aboard their small fishing boat as it drifted across the Pacific Ocean threw the bodies of two other men overboard after they died of starvation, officials said Thursday.
The three were rescued last week by a trawler more than 5,000 miles from the Mexican fishing village of San Blas, from which they had left on what was supposed to be a routine shark fishing trip last fall.
Stranded on the high seas, they ate raw birds and fish and drank rainwater.
"At the start of this fishing trip, there were five people on board the boat," Miguel Gutierrez, a senior official at Mexico's Foreign Ministry, told reporters.
Gutierrez said a survivor told a government official that one man died in January and the other in early February.
"They refused to eat, and that's why they died," he said.
The survivors did not mention their dead companions when they were interviewed Wednesday by radio and television stations aboard the boat that rescued them near the Marshall Islands.
"It is natural that people who have spent nine months on the high seas, in the conditions they survived, would not have their complete story straight away," Foreign Minister Luis Ernesto Derbez said.
A government official in San Blas said Thursday that no one there knew two other men had been on board the 25-foot fiberglass boat.
Their families had given the men up for dead.
The three men were skinny and sunburned but otherwise in good health. The Taiwanese fishing trawler that found them is expected to return to port in the Marshall Islands on Monday. The men will be given medical checks and flown home.