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Woman recounts struggle to survive

MARCH 7 — An Australian woman says she drank her own urine to stay alive after spending five days adrift in a dinghy without food or water. Dominique Courteille, who is 57 and of Perth, Australia, was rescued Monday off Indonesia by the crew of a passing fishing boat.

The crew helped Courteille onto the boat, and transported her to Phuket, Thailand, news reports say. She was taken to an area hospital where she was treated for sunburn and dehydration.

“[The crew was] so kind to me and the first thing they gave me was a glass of cold water,” Courteille, says in a news report. “I cannot thank them enough for saving my life.”

Courteille had been living aboard her 36-foot boat, Sonnet, which is anchored about 500 feet off a southern Thailand shore, according to reports. On the evening of March 1 Courteille was attempting to return to her boat after having dinner on nearby LipeIsland when the motor on her dinghy failed and the current swept her out to sea.

“I had no water, no food. I was just coming back from a meal,” Courteille says in a report. “I was only wearing shorts and a T-shirt. It got very cold at night, and during the day I got sunburnt, there was no protection.”

Courteille spent the next five days drifting and shouting at passing cargo ships and fishing boats, reports say. She wrote notes to her four children on the side of the dinghy.

“I was drinking my own urine to stay all the time rehydrated,” Courteille, who was born in Belgium, says in a report. “I read you could do that in a magazine.”

Courteille has since left the hospital and returned to her boat.

— Jason Fell