An Unbelievable Survival Story

Tourists swim for hours, drink urine, and brave volcano after boat sinks

The tourists were traveling to Komodo Island, which as the name implies is home to the world's biggest lizard, the Komodo dragon. (Gabriel Hsia/Flickr)

A group of foreign tourists traveling between two Indonesian islands had to think way outside the safety pamphlet after their boat sank in rough seas. They survived for two days before getting rescued, though two tourists remain missing.

The boat carrying 25 people—some Indonesians as well as tourists from Britain, New Zealand, Spain, France, Germany, and the Netherlands—sank during a storm while traveling between Lombok and Komodo. Survivor Bertrand Homassel told Agence France-Presse that they were about three miles from the coast when this happened, but there were large waves to contend with and the lifeboat would not fit everyone.

After 12 hours of floating with life jackets, the 10 tourists who could not fit in the lifeboat swam for six hours to the island of Sangeang, making it to shore as the sun set. As if they hadn't already had a very bad day, the island's active volcano was erupting when they arrived, and the place was deserted. But, Homassel said, they remained there anyway until a passing boat rescued the group. In the meantime, they had to drink their own urine and eat leaves for sustenance. After all this, Homassel, for his part, remained optimistic: "I was really very lucky," he said.

Fishermen spotted the remaining 13 people who had stayed on the lifeboat, including the entire crew, and they were rescued two days after the boat sank. Now the survivors are recovering, rehydrating, and eating KFC on the Indonesian island of Sumbawa. A Dutchman and an Italian woman remain missing, though bad weather continues to make the rescue search difficult.

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