Alive after 7 weeks at sea

November 2010 News Soundings Online

Their rescue made headlines around the globe. Now one of the teenagers who spent more than seven weeks adrift in the South Pacific has told his story.

"We prayed every day that someone would rescue us. We thought we would die," Etueni Nasau, 14, told The Associated Press in an interview from his hospital bed in Fiji.

In late September, Nasau and his 15-year-old cousins, Samuel Pelesa and Filo Filo, set off in a 12-foot aluminum boat for a short trip between islands in the archipelago of Tokelau, a territory of New Zealand. However, they ran out of fuel, leaving them drifting out to sea.

sissonnewClick herefor a 2004 column by Soundings editor Bill Sisson about three young people in the South Pacific region miraculously beating the odds when their family's boat capsized.

A search by the Royal New Zealand Air Force found no trace of them. Various reports had them adrift between 50 and 61 days.

The trio say they had brought a few coconuts with them, but no other food. They ate flying fish that occasionally landed in the boat and drank rainwater. They were found - famished, dehydrated, exhausted and sunburned - by a New Zealand tuna trawler. The boys had drifted more than 800 miles and were 240 miles northeast of Fiji.

Their rescue came two weeks after hundreds of islanders had gathered to pray for their safe return. "I was on Cloud 9. I was so joyful," one of the teens' fathers told CNN.

CNN interviewed the first mate of the New Zealand trawler that rescued the boys. Tai Fredricsen described the teens as "skin and bones" when they came aboard.

An uncle of one of the teens told a New Zealand newspaper that the dinghy the boys were in was one of the island's best and was very difficult to capsize.

Reports say the teens - the last one was released from the hospital Sunday - are craving chocolate, and a Canadian company has shown interest in filming a documentary.

Click here for The Associated Press report.

Click here for a report with video by Britain's The Guardian newspaper.

Click here and here for information on the islands.

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