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Survivor Ben Lewis in Lombok
"It was all a bit bizarre"
 real 28k

Rebecca Fyfe's boyfriend, Nick Hodgson
"It was a bit weird really"
 real 28k

The BBC's Rory Cellan Jones
"It's a story that shows how powerful global communications are"
 real 56k

Thursday, 15 February, 2001, 16:34 GMT
Darkness delays tourists' rescue
The boat ran into difficulties off Lombok
The boat got into difficulties between Bali and Lombok
A group of 14 tourists, including several Britons, stranded on a boat off the coast of Indonesia, are now expected to be rescued on Thursday night after nearly 48 hours at sea.

They have been at the centre of an international rescue effort which was sparked by a mobile phone mayday call to England by one of the passengers.

The alarm was raised after Rebecca Fyfe, a 19-year-old woman from Ayrshire, on board the yacht, sent an SOS text message from her mobile phone to her boyfriend in England to say the boat was in trouble.

It has now been located in the sea near Lombok and although an Indonesian military ship is only 100m away, any rescue attempt will have to wait until first light, around 2200 (GMT) on Thursday night, according to Falmouth coastguard.

The drama began on Wednesday morning at 0220 (GMT) when Miss Fyfe sent a message to boyfriend Nick Hodgson's mobile phone.

He contacted coastguard officials near London who relayed the message to Falmouth.

Nick Hodgson called the coastguard
Nick Hodgson: received text message

Speaking to the BBC, Mr Hodgson said: "It was a bit weird really.

"There was a message on my phone saying they were drifting and needed help and to phone the Falmouth coastguard.

"It just said 'stuck in the seas need SOS phone Falmouth coastguards'."

The Cornish coastguard made contact with their Australian and Indonesian counterparts to locate the beleaguered boat.

Rescue attempt

The Indonesians tried to mount a rescue operation on Wednesday night, but were hampered by heavy seas with a four-metre swell.

Early reports on Thursday morning were that everyone had been rescued, but Hamish Daniel of the British Embassy in Jakarta has since said that 14 remain on the boat.

Four of the Britons on board travelled ashore on their surf boards when the boat drifted close enough to the coastline of Lombok.

Rebecca Fyfe still stranded at sea after SOS call on her mobile
Rebecca Fyfe: raised alarm on her mobile

They are now in the village of Tanjung.

Speaking on BBC Radio Four's Today programme, Ben Lewis from Devon, who surfed to safety, said: "We spent the night trying to set up a sail because we had no power at all.

"So we had that up trying to get us towards land and this morning we managed to get close enough to jump off and with our boards paddle to shore."

Mr Daniel said: "The four went to the local police station to raise the alarm and that is how we were able to get their precise location.

"The Australian Consul went from Bali to Lombok and he could see the boat from the shoreline anchored around 300 metres offshore."

Ian Guy from the Falmouth coastguard station said on Thursday afternoon: "They are in high spirits and food has been taken to them from the war ship nearby.

"They are relatively safe."

The boat ran into difficulties in the Lombok Straits between Bali and Lombok as it was travelling between Sangigi and Mataram.

On board were 10 British nationals, one of whom is a qualified lifeguard, one Australian, one New Zealander and six Indonesians.

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See also:

02 Sep 99 | Northern Ireland
Women dial for helicopter rescue
04 Sep 99 | Scotland
Coastguard mission crosses continent
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