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    Castaways found after 50 days adrift


    by ODN


    Three teenage boys set adrift for 50 days in a small boat in the South Pacific have arrived in Fiji on board a New Zealand fishing boat, the San Nikanau, whose crew spotted the boys' floundering boat near the French territory of Wallis and Futuna.

    They survived on coconuts, a seagull they managed to catch and by drinking rain and then sea water, rescuers said.

    The boys, from the New Zealand territory of Tokelau, disappeared from its Atafu atoll on October 6.

    After an extensive air and sea search failed to find the teenagers, their families became convinced they had died at sea, and two weeks ago held a memorial service for them, a Maritime New Zealand spokesman said on Friday.

    Etueni Nasau, 14, Samu Pelesa, 15, and Filo Filo, 15, drifted 800 miles across an empty, and little traveled section of the Pacific Ocean.

    "(San Nikanau) was on his way, was fishing up in Tuvalu, on its way back to New Zealand, it spotted these guys, teenagers, picked them up. Since it was on route to New Zealand, they had to come to the nearest medical facility in Fiji. We got involved and we dispatched the patrol boat as soon as it came to our waters, they were in urgent need of medical attention," Fijian Navy commander Francis Kean told media."

    The boys had a couple of coconuts on board but no water when rescued. They said they had left their island home to travel to a nearby island and had enough coconuts to last two days.

    It is not known why the boys failed to reach the island.