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Boys rescued after 50 days in sea

Three teenagers survived 50 days adrift in a tiny boat in the South Pacific by drinking rainwater and eating raw fish and a seagull before being rescued by a passing trawler.

Samuel Pelesa and Filo Filo, both 15, and Edward Nasau, 14, had been given up for dead on their coral atoll in the Tokelau islands, where a memorial service was held for them after extensive searches failed to find them.

The boys set off on October 5 in their aluminium dinghy from their home island to one nearby. It is not known how they went missing, but the outboard motor on their boat may have broken down at sea.

Worried family members reported them missing and New Zealand's air force launched a sea search, but there was no sign of the tiny boat.

But on Wednesday, the tuna boat San Nikuna spotted a small dinghy bobbing in the open sea north east of Fiji, with three people aboard waving frantically, said first mate Tai Fredricsen. They had drifted 800 miles from where they set out.

The fishing boat pulled up alongside the smaller vessel and asked the teenagers if they needed any help, to which they readily replied that they did.

"All they could say was, 'Thank you very much for stopping'," Mr Fredricsen told New Zealand's National Radio. "They look very physically depleted, but mentally, very high."

The teens and their boat were hauled aboard the fishing trawler, which was on its way to Fiji where it will deliver the trio into medical care.

Mr Fredricsen said the boys were dehydrated, sunburned and very thin, but otherwise seemed well. The tuna boat's crew gave them small portions of fruit and fluids.

Mr Fredricsen said the boys reported having just two coconuts with them when they set out. During their ordeal they drank rainwater that collected in the boat and ate fish they had caught. Once they managed to grab a sea bird that landed on the boat and they ate that.

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