Teenagers adrift in Pacific for 50 days reach land
SUVA, Fiji (AP) - Three teenage boys who spent 50 days adrift in a tiny boat in the South Pacific walked ashore on shaky legs Friday after their chance rescue - celebrated on their home island hundreds of miles away as a miracle that brought them back from the dead.
The trio - Samuel Pelesa and Filo Filo, both 15, and Edward Nasau, 14 - told rescuers they survived on rainwater they collected, a handful of coconuts, raw fish and a seagull that landed on their 12-foot-long aluminum boat.
The boys set off Oct. 5 from their home island to one nearby. It's not known how they went missing, but the outboard motor may have broken down at sea.
Worried family members reported them missing and the New Zealand air force launched a sea search. No sign of the tiny boat was found, and the village of 500 people held memorial services, expecting never to see the boys again.
They were picked up Wednesday by a fishing trawler, undernourished, severely dehydrated and badly sunburned, but otherwise well. The ship's first mate said the area they were in is way off any normal commercial shipping routes.
They drifted 800 miles from where they set out - Tokelau, a bucolic collection of coral atolls north of Samoa that is New Zealand's territory.
A Fiji navy patrol boat met the trawler Friday and escorted it into the harbor of its capital, Suva. The teens were met by New Zealand consular officials and taken directly to a hospital for medical checks. Looking thin, the three walked off the boat without speaking to reporters.