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Myanmar crewman jumped off ship to seek asylum in New Zealand

Myanmar crewman jumped off ship to seek asylum in New Zealand
Qiuyi Tan 5 Nov, 2021

A man who jumped off a cargo ship in the hope of seeking asylum in New Zealand says he was "just waiting to die" after spending nearly 24 hours in freezing water.

"I was praying, trying to swim, praying, swimming. Finally, I gave up everything ... I was just waiting to die," the Myanmar national told the Herald after a dramatic rescue this week.

The 27-year-old crewman leapt off the Paovosa Wisdom VII and into the sea near Gisborne on Monday evening, in the hope of fleeing the military regime in Myanmar and seeking asylum in New Zealand.

The weather was good at the time but turned as Min Naing, who is only using his first name to protect his family's safety back home, was swimming and the strong current pulled him offshore.

"The water was 15C, it felt like ice water."

Min Naing was wearing an immersion suit but water had seeped in after hours of swimming, soaking him completely long before he was rescued.

"It got colder, and colder, until I couldn't move, just floating in the water.

Rescuers on the Eastland Port pilot vessel Rere Moana spotted him just before 5pm on Tuesday. He says he shouted for help, and they came to his rescue.

"I was crying, smiling, I didn't know what to do. I was very happy they rescued me."