After Tourist Boat Sinks, an Amazing Tale of Survival

Boat was traveling between Indonesian islands when struck reef

By Shelley Hazen,  Newser Staff

Posted Aug 18, 2014 12:50 PM CDT

(Newser) – When a tourist boat sank off the coast of Indonesia on Saturday, 25 people went into the water. One group of 10 survivors had to swim six or seven hours, eat leaves, drink their own urine, and dodge an erupting volcano on an island; the second group of 13 survived 40 hours in a lifeboat on the open water. Those who stayed behind took turns between being in the boat and the water. "We had this system, and in the beginning it was not easy," says one survivor. All 23 were rescued yesterday and today, the BBC reports; search and rescue crews are still looking for two missing passengers, believed to be a Dutch man and Italian woman, the AP adds.

The tourists' boat was making the 15-hour journey between the islands when it hit a 10-foot wave and then a reef, which caused it to leak and then sink. With little room on the lifeboat, the group of 23 decided to split—some stayed with the lifeboat and the rest swam. "It was a terrible experience. We swam in choppy waters for seven hours before being found by a fisherman," one survivor tells the AP. All 23 are now recovering in Sumbawa. (A camera from a 2012 shipwreck off Vancouver Island was recently found.)

In this image taken from video Sunday, Aug. 17, 2014, a male survivor is escorted to a clinic by rescue team in Lombok, Indonesia, after a boat sank Saturday evening on its way from Lombok island to Komodo island.  Rescuers on Monday safely recovered 13 more people from the tourist...
In this image taken from video Sunday, Aug. 17, 2014, a male survivor is escorted to a clinic by rescue team in Lombok, Indonesia, after a boat sank Saturday evening on its way from Lombok island to Komodo...   (AP Photo/AP Video)
In this image taken from video, Dutch survivor of boat sinking, Eli Visser, in pink T-shirt, talks to friends at Ngurah Rai Airport in Bali, Indonesia, Monday, Aug. 18, 2014.  Rescuers on Monday safely recovered 13 more people from the tourist boat that sank on Saturday after hitting a reef...
In this image taken from video, Dutch survivor of boat sinking, Eli Visser, in pink T-shirt, talks to friends at Ngurah Rai Airport in Bali, Indonesia, Monday, Aug. 18, 2014. Rescuers on Monday safely...   (AP Photo/AP Video)
In this image taken from video, Dutch survivor of boat sinking, Eli Visser, in pink T-shirt,  talks to friends at Ngurah Rai Airport in Bali, Indonesia, Monday, Aug. 18, 2014.  Rescuers on Monday safely recovered 13 more people from the tourist boat that sank on Saturday after hitting a reef...
In this image taken from video, Dutch survivor of boat sinking, Eli Visser, in pink T-shirt, talks to friends at Ngurah Rai Airport in Bali, Indonesia, Monday, Aug. 18, 2014. Rescuers on Monday safely...   (AP Photo/AP Video)
A Marine Police officer questions a survivor from the boat that sank Saturday evening on its way from Lombok island to Komodo island, at a hospital in Sape, Indonesia, Monday, Aug. 18, 2014.
A Marine Police officer questions a survivor from the boat that sank Saturday evening on its way from Lombok island to Komodo island, at a hospital in Sape, Indonesia, Monday, Aug. 18, 2014.   (AP Photo)
Government officials question survivors from the boat that sank Saturday evening on its way from Lombok island to Komodo island, at a hospital in Bima, Indonesia, Monday, Aug. 18, 2014. Rescuers on Monday safely recovered 13 more people from the tourist boat that sank after hitting a reef in central...
Government officials question survivors from the boat that sank Saturday evening on its way from Lombok island to Komodo island, at a hospital in Bima, Indonesia, Monday, Aug. 18, 2014. Rescuers on Monday...   (AP Photo)
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