Missing woman adrift on boat defended her dead husband's body from vultures and consumed raw fish and flour to survive

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Missing woman adrift on boat defended her dead husband's body from vultures and consumed raw fish and flour to survive
Roosting black vultures.Getty Images
  • A 68-year-old woman was on a fishing trip with her husband in Brazil when he died of a heart attack.
  • She was trapped on the boat with his corpse and had to fend off vultures and eat raw fish to survive.
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A missing woman in Brazil was found adrift on a boat in the Amazon with her husband's corpse after experiencing tragedy on a fishing trip, a report says.

Maria das Graças Mota Bernardo, 68, had to fend off vultures from her husband's corpse and consumed raw fish and flour to survive, their daughter Cristiane told reporters, per The Independent.

She was on the first day of her first fishing trip with her husband José Nilson de Souza Bernardo on 29 March when he passed away of a heart attack.

She went to seek help, but the boat's engine malfunctioned and left her adrift on the river Rio Negro, in the Amazon jungle.

"She went to the bow and started paddling. She spent all those days paddling," her daughter Cristiane said.

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Growing desperate, the woman banged pots and pans and screamed for help. Her daughter said she "screamed and screamed, and no one answered."

At one point, a man passed by in a boat but ignored her calls for help, according to Cristiane.

Maria was forced to improvise to survive. On one day she only drank water, and on another eating flour that they had on the boat with water and pure lemon juice, according to her daughter.

She also feared predatory animals, including vultures and caiman, a type of mini alligator that would circle the boat.

"My mum said vultures started to perch on top of the vessel," Cristiane said. "She hit them and they screamed. She took the tarp off the top of the awning and put it over the body because bees and mosquitoes were already sitting on his corpse."

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After days of being lost on the river, Maria's husband's body started to decompose, and she was forced to move to the other side of the vessel and covered her mouth and nose with a cloth to avoid the smell.

"She couldn't sleep anymore. All her strength went into bringing his body home for the family to give him a dignified burial," Cristiane said.

The woman was eventually rescued by a Navy helicopter on April 4, given first aid, and then taken to a hospital for treatment.

Cristiane said that her mother was still struggling to deal with the trauma of the experience.

"She is shaken and weak. She can't sleep," she said.

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