After being lost for more than 50 hours at sea, a flying search and rescue team located three Adventist boys—aged 11, 14 and 16, who went missing in the waters off Mota Lava island in Vanuatu on Friday May 14.
The search party began on Friday evening, consisting of multiple boats and Dr Mark Turnbull on his Wings of Hope plane, and continued throughout Sabbath and until Sunday afternoon, when searchers in Dr Turnbull’s plane finally found the boys in the middle of the ocean.
The boys were Pathfinders from Mota Lava island in Torba province and had reportedly gone fishing. People across the Pacific Islands were praying for the lost boys throughout the weekend.
According to a Facebook post by Mark Naomi Turnbull, the boys were found drifting east, into “a place where kopra ships never go, domestic aircraft never fly and small boats never pass”.
In another Facebook post, Dr Turnbull—who was part of the search and rescue team—described how they dropped water bottles (half filled, so they would float), coconuts, bananas, a waterproof torch, grapefruit and a note to say “a boat is coming” from the plane, before the boats could get to their location and rescue them.
At the time of rescue, police boats were 16 to 24 kilometres (10 to 15 miles) off course and heading to the south, in the wrong direction.
“The solemn realisation has now hit us that if we had not gone way out there to the east . . . (where boats or planes just never fly), most likely these three boys would have been lost . . . maybe never to be seen again,” the post read. “I feel like saying, ‘Halleluajah! Mission accomplished!'”