CALCUTTA, India -- Twenty-eight sailors shipwrecked for nearly two weeks off a remote Bay of Bengal island inhabited by stone age natives arrived in Calcutta Tuesday en route to Hong Kong.
The Taiwanese captain of the Panamanian-registered Primrose which ran aground in the Andaman Islands Aug. 2 and two other officers remained behind to supervise inspection of the freighter to determine if it is still seaworthy.
The saga of the Primrose crew began when the vessel struck a coral reef off North Sentinel Island, about 1,200 miles southeast of Calcutta, during a monsoon storm.
North Sentinel is one of about 500 isles in the Andaman group -- one of only about a half dozen populated by a few natives who lead a stone-age type existence.
The crew was rescued in a daring helicopter pickup as storm-tossed seas battered the grounded freighter. The helicopter had to make three trips in airlifting the crew from the freighter to Port Blair, capital of the Andaman Islands.
The day after the ship went aground the captain broadcast urgent messages to Hong Kong declaring the vessel was on the verge of being attacked natives armed with spears and arrows. He pleaded that weapons be air-dropped to the Primrose immediately.
Stormy weather blocked initial rescue attempts, and Indian government officials stated that at no time was the crew in danger of being attacked by natives.
Crewmen told reporters Tuesday they because frightened when they awoke the morning after the mishap and saw 'naked islanders aiming their spears and arrows at the ship while jumping around on the beach 300 meters (330 yards) away.'
The crew said the Primrose was still stuck on the reef but was in no apparent danger of sinking.