Dramatic video captured the moment a group of Australian surfers were found alive in the water — 36 hours after their boat capsized during bad weather off Indonesia in what had been a celebratory 30th birthday trip.
Steph Weisse, Jordan Short and Will Teagle are seen cheering and waving their arms on their surfboards along with an Indonesian crewman as a rescue boat approaches them, footage posted by The New Daily shows.
But the jubilation stops when the rescuers notice that a third Aussie, Elliot Foote, is not among them.
“Where’s Elliot?” one of the people on the boat shouts.
“Have you got him?” shouts back the rescued Weisse, who is Foote’s girlfriend.
Foote had paddled off to land to seek help earlier and none of the people at the scene knew of his whereabouts – but the birthday boy was later found safe about three miles away.
His worried father, Peter, was speaking to a 7NEWS reporter when his partner, Susan Whitla, rushed over to deliver the good news that the surfers were found alive.
“It’s saying they’re all found!” Susan can be heard shouting.
About 90 minutes later, Peter received a text message from his son.
“Hey dad Elliot here. I am alive. Safe now. Love you. Chat later,” read the text, which he sent from another person’s phone.
Peter had organized his own search-and-rescue effort from Bronte beach using friends, boats and social media, according to the news outlet.
“We were trying to get airplanes and helicopters, and it turns out just a guy in a yacht’s found them,” he told 7NEWS.
“Thanks to the Aussie guy on the catamaran who volunteered his time … he searched all last night and he knows the waters really well, he lives over there and he was the one who found them,” Peter told the outlet.
He noted that the friends had been in the water for a long time.
“I don’t know how they’re going to be health-wise, but they’re found, they’re alive, they’re well. It’s all good, it’s fantastic news,” Peter said. “It’s unbelievable actually, I’m so stoked about that.”
The four Aussies were among 17 people who were traveling in two speedboats on Nias Island, heading to Banyak off North Sumatra, when their vessel ran into bad weather and they went missing Sunday night.
Foote suffered a bad case of board rash during the ordeal, but was otherwise OK and in good spirits.
Weisse’s mom, Jill Weisse, recalled the horror of her and her husband, Wayne, getting news that their daughter was missing.
“Straight away my blood turned cold and I thought, ‘Oh god, what mess has she got into this time’, and Wayne just started crying, saying, ‘She is missing.’”
Those fears were settled when they heard their daughter’s voice Tuesday, her dad told told 9News.
“(The boat captain) said, ‘Wayne, I got someone here to talk to you’ and it was my daughter and I heard her and she said, ‘Hi Dad’,” Wayne told the outlet. ”What a scare he’s put me through.”
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