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Last Updated: Wednesday, 10 May 2006, 07:11 GMT 08:11 UK
Trio rescued after weeks at sea
By Phil Mercer
BBC News, Sydney

Three men have been rescued off northern Australia after being lost at sea for 22 days.

They were winched to safety by helicopter, after sending mobile phone text messages to relatives with their approximate location.

John Tabo, his 20-year-old son and teenage nephew survived on raw squid and rainwater for three weeks.

They had left their home on Murray Island, which lies in between northern Australia and Papua New Guinea.

They were heading for another island 70km (43 miles) away, but got lost in heavy seas and soon ran out of fuel.

Rescuers began looking for them and their small dinghy, but gave up after five days because of an approaching cyclone.

Full recovery

Relatives thought the men were dead. That was until they received a text message saying that their boat had drifted back into familiar waters near Murray Island.

Emergency crews were immediately sent to this remote area in the Torres Strait and the missing sailors were found.

All three are recovering in hospital, suffering from severe dehydration and extreme weight loss.

Medical staff have said they are exhausted and traumatised but should make a full recovery.

It has been quite a week for dramatic stories of survival in Australia.

The lost boatmen were found alive the same day that a pair of Tasmanian miners were rescued from a gold mine after spending 14 days trapped underground.

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29 Sep 04 |  Asia-Pacific
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