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3 Children Rescued After Six Days Lost at Sea Near Australia - 2004-07-14

Three children have been found on a remote island in northern Australia almost a week after their dinghy sank in rough seas. Their parents and a younger brother are still missing in the Torres Strait, which lies between the Cape York peninsula in Queensland and Papua New Guinea.

The three children defied hunger, thirst, crocodiles and sharks to survive six days in the Torres Strait. The castaways - aged between 10 and 15 - were rescued from a tiny island after being stranded for six days.

An aunt of the three survivors, Vickie Tamwoy, says youngsters living on islands in the Torres Strait are taught how to cope in emergencies. "I put it down to training good teaching practices by people such as my husband Dinto, who's their uncle who establishes that all the kids must know how to survive in times of being lost," says Mrs. Tamwoy.

The children's ordeal began more than a week ago after the family had left home on the island of Badu en route to a birthday party on Thursday Island. It was a journey that would normally take just a few hours, but their small dinghy developed engine trouble and capsized. Their parents told the three children to swim to a rocky outcrop.

They last saw their parents and three-year-old brother clinging to the upturned boat.

The government has called off a search for the missing three, although relatives and islanders have vowed to keep looking.

The children spent three nights without food or water on the rocky outcrop. They decided that if they did not make it to a bigger island, they would die. It was a three-kilometer swim through water infested with crocodiles and sharks.

When they were found, the siblings were suffering from dehydration and sunburn. They are now back home on Badu Island.