A story of death and survival has emerged out of the South Pacific: A group of 12 that departed from Papua New Guinea's Bougainville province on Dec. 22, intending to spend Christmas in the nearby Carteret Islands, never made it. The AFP reports tragedy struck en route when their canoe, which relied on an outboard motor for power, capsized. They were able to right it and clamber back in, but some reportedly drowned in the process. Others died over the 32 days the group is thought to have spent at sea before being rescued on Jan. 23 off the French territory of New Caledonia. What was supposed to be a roughly 60-mile journey ended with them some 1,250 miles from home.
Survivor Dominic Stally says the bodies of the eight who ultimately died from drowning or dehydration were "let go" into the sea. "A couple have died and left behind their baby and I am the one who held onto the baby and later the baby died as well," he tells the Solomon Star. In addition to Stally, another man, woman, and 12-year-old girl are the reported survivors. They were spotted by a fishing boat that brought them about a week later to the Solomon Islands, where they are currently being treated. As for how they managed to survive, the Guardian reports they used a container in the vessel to collect rainwater and ate floating coconuts. (He had one of the loneliest jobs, then got lost at sea.)