May 24, 2019

Teenagers survive 50 days adrift in the Pacific Ocean

Teenage castaways, Filo Filo, Samuel Perez and Edward Nasau. Looking great despite having had their funerals weeks ago.

Three teenage boys in an aluminium dinghy have drifted 1300 kilometres across the South Pacific in an epic 50 day struggle for survival.

The boys, Samuel Perez and Filo Filo, both 15, and Edward Nasau, 14, had disappeared from Atafu Island in the Tokelau’s on October 5. There had been an extensive search by a New Zealand airforce Orion but there was no trace of the boys. Memorial services were held for them on their small island of 500 people.

On Wednesday, a New Zealand fishing boat the San Nikunau operating in a lonely stretch of the worlds biggest ocean, spotted the tiny boat carrying the three Tokelauans.

First Mate Tai Fredricsen was on the helm of the tuna boat, which was operating to the North West of the Fiji Islands. He said “We saw a small vessel, a little speedboat on our bows, and we knew it was a little weird.” We had enough smarts to know there were people in it and those people were not supposed to be there.”

“The boys started waving so I pulled the vessel up as close as I could to them and asked them if they needed any help they said ‘Very much so’. They were ecstatic to see us”.

“They were very skinny, but physically in good health, compared to what they have been through.”

In the days before the rescue there had been no rain and the boys had started sipping seawater. They could have lasted only a few days longer with no fresh water.

“It was a miracle we got to them.” Fredricsen said. After the boys had some food, they phoned home. The San Nikunau is now heading back to Fiji with it’s human cargo.

Joe Suveinakama of the Tokelau office in Apia said that the news had been passed on to all 1200 people on Tokelau’s three atolls. “There is absolute jubilation on Atafu, tears of joy, but it is all tempered by the tragedy from Greymouth.”

Newswarped loves these tales of survival against the odds. There are so many tragedies occuring every day on our planet. It is great to get a few of them turning into joy. The San Nikunau is not normally in those waters. It was only by chance that they were taking a direct route back to New Zealand on this occassion.