For three boys from the Tokelau Islands the word miracle has a whole new meaning.
After going missing following a sporting event in October, and after several unsuccessful searches by New Zealand's air force, they were presumed dead. AboutÂ 500 people on the island held a memorial service for them.
But for Samuel Perez and Filo Filo, both 15, and Edward Nasau, 14, this story ended in the most unbelievable way - being rescued by a tuna ship near Fiji after 50 days at sea.
Since October 5, the three survived with limited supply.Â They shared a single raw seagull and drankÂ a tiny bit of rainwater.Â They eventually resorted to drinking small amounts of sea water, Australia's Herald Sun reported.
On Wednesday afternoon, their saga finally came to an end when the tuna boat, the San Nikunau, saw their small aluminum boat floating in the middle of open waters. They were and 750 nautical miles (1,300 km) away from where they went missing.
'We got to them in a miracle," the first mate, Tai Fredricsen, ï»¿told the Sydney Morning Herald.ï»¿
"They were in reasonably good spirits for how long they'd been adrift," Fredricsen told the Herald Sun. "They were very badly sunburnt. They were in the open during the day up in the tropics there. But really they just needed basic first aid."
Call it a miracle, or call it luck, but for these boys, it was a rescue that might not have happened if not for chance.
The tuna boat was fishing far from where it usually does, the crew told the Herald Sun. It was taking a shortcut home to New Zealand when it stumbled upon the boys.
The boys were being checked at a hospital but were ecstatic to finally be able to speak by phone to their families.
"They've got a lot of gusto, a lot of strong mental spirit," Fredricsen told the Morning Herald. "Physically they are very [distraught] but mentally they are very strong."