Twelve survivors found aboard a boat that drifted for two months in the Pacific Ocean told authorities yesterday they stayed alive by catching fish by hand and drinking rain water.

Nine others died during the ordeal and their bodies apparently were cast adrift from the crowded 20-foot boat, which had drifted about 1,300 miles off course, said Coast Guard spokesman Keith Spangler.

The survivors were taken to Truk in the U.S Trust Territory, where a doctor examined them and said they appeared to be in good condition.

Spangler said the survivors told authorites the engine on their boot quit shortly after they began their trip from Tarawa to Abaiang island March 26.

They started to drift, he said, and lived off their provisions for two weeks.

He said when those supplies were depleted, they began catching fish by hand and drinking rain water, which lasted three of four days at a time. Spangler said when they ran out of rain water, the boat's occupants would resort to drinking ocean water.

Their drifting boat was spotted by a helicopter from the San Diego-based fishing vessel Tifaimoana about 700 miles southeast of Guam Friday afternoon (Guam time.)