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Monday, February 22, 1999 Published at 15:55 GMT


Message with a lot of bottle

A message in a bottle from two young boys in the UK has turned up on an Australian beach after an incredible 12,000-mile journey.

The BBC's George Eykyn reports
Brothers James and David Burch threw their pretend SOS message into the sea off Felixstowe, in Suffolk, in December.

Two months later, and half the world away, the bottle, with its message, was found on the sea shore at Perth in Western Australia.

By strange coincidence, the man who found the youngsters' unconventional international delivery, Charles Harford-Cross, was also from the UK.

He said: "As I was walking the dog along the beach I saw this bottle just sticking out of the sand.

"It was quite a weird coincidence getting a letter from someone all the way across the world by that kind of mail."

[ image: James Burch was surprised to get a reply]
James Burch was surprised to get a reply
The bottle is believed to have been carried across the Atlantic by ocean currents, before rounding either the treacherous Cape Horn of South America or the Cape of Good Hope on the southern tip of Africa and round to the south of Australia.

The boys' mother, however, never thought the bottle would get further than the beach at Felixstowe.

Diane Burch said: "At the time I thought it was quite stupid and I told them not to be so silly.

[ image: The brothers sent an SOS message]
The brothers sent an SOS message
"I thought it was just polluting the ocean and I didn't think it would get very far."

The boys weighted their bottle down with stones to make it float upright, and wrote a message asking for help.

It read: "Dear whoever you are, please come and help us before we perish, from James Burch and family."

The boys have been in touch again with Mr Harford-Cross, by a much quicker method this time.

Their thank-you note was sent by e-mail.

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