Three teenagers arrive in Fiji after Pacific ordeal

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Media captionThe boys' school principal John Kalolo said the community had not given up hope that the boys would be found alive

Three teenage boys found alive after at least 50 days in a boat in the Pacific Ocean have arrived safely in Fiji.

The boys, from the Tokelau Islands, a New Zealand-administered territory in the South Pacific, had been given up for dead after an unsuccessful search.

The boys survived on coconuts, water they trapped on a tarpaulin and a seabird they managed to catch.

Tanu Filo, the father of one of the boys, described the rescue as a "miracle".

Image caption The boys were forced to drink salt water for the last two days

"The whole village, they were so excited and cried and they sang songs and were hugging each other in the road. Everybody was yelling and shouting the good news," he told New Zealand radio.

Meanwhile the head teacher of their school, John Kalolo, told BBC World TV there had been "many tears of happiness and jubilation" in the community over their rescue.

He said when they were missing people still believed they were alive, but it was still unclear how they had ended up in this situation.

"There are many questions we need to ask these children - we're not sure of their motives and intentions," he said.

Dehydration and sunburn

A tuna fishing boat picked them up and took them to Fiji, where they were escorted into harbour by a New Zealand navy patrol and met by consular officials.

They were taken to hospital for a thorough examination, suffering from severe dehydration and sunburn.

The boys - Samu Perez and Filo Filo, both 15, and Edward Nasau, 14 - had gone missing from Atafu atoll in a small aluminium boat after an annual sporting event on 5 October.

They were presumed to have died after unsuccessful searches by the New Zealand air force.

The boys were then spotted north-east of Fiji on Wednesday afternoon by a member of the tuna boat's crew.

"We drew up next to them, and we asked if they needed any help and their reply was a very ecstatic 'Yes'," the tuna vessel's first mate, Tai Fredricsen, told the BBC.

"We immediately deployed our rescue craft and got them straight on-board and administered basic first aid."

Mr Fredricsen said the boys had a small supply of coconuts on their boat, but that it had run out after two days.

"They had a period when they were only drinking fresh water, which they were capturing during the night in a tarpaulin," he said.

"They also told me that two weeks prior to us rescuing them, they were able to catch a sea bird which was very lucky for them."

"They did mention that during the last two days they had started drinking salt water, which could have been disastrous for them," he added.

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