3 Chilean kids survive 16 hours at sea on makeshift raft

Santiago, Jan 26 (IANS/EFE) Three children were rescued in southern Chile after floating at sea for at least 16 hours on a polystyrene panel that was swept into deep water as they were playing by the shore, the Chilean navy said.

The youngsters, ages 10, 12 and 14, were playing Sunday afternoon on Aulin Island, some 1,300 km from Santiago, when the polystyrene panel they were using, some 3 metres long and 2 metres wide, was swept out to sea by the wind and current.

The three had been left in the care of their grandmother while their parents took part in a religious festival on a nearby island. Finding them missing on their return around 7 p.m. Sunday, they notified the navy at once.

At around 11 a.m. Monday, the missing children were spotted by a navy patrol as they floated adrift some 24 km northwest of the place they had been carried out to sea.

The children, navy officials said, showed signs of hypothermia after spending the night on the ocean.

After their rescue, the youngsters were taken to the nearby mainland town of Quemchi, where the were given a medical examination.

Expanded polystyrene is a plastic product used for packaging, to separate food products and as insulation in buildings.

In this area it is plentiful because it is used where salmon farming is done, locals use it for makeshift rafts to cross streams and ocean inlets, and kids play with it, Alex Gonzalez, chief of the port authority of Quemchi, told reporters.



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