Indonesian authorities plan to continue a search for a missing sailor, after the other six people in a boat lost in remote waters off Aceh on Sunday were rescued on Tuesday.
Four Australians and two other Indonesian crew were safely recovered from the sea. They survived 36 hours in the water on surfboards they had brought for a beach holiday.
But the local sailor Fifan Marongo was still missing, nearly three days after the small wooden boat was struck by a storm.
Indonesia’s National Search and Rescue Agency, Basarnas, planned to continue to search for the man until at least Monday.
The Basarnas official Tonggor Gultom told Nine the agency hoped Marongo was safely stranded on an island.
“We predict that he is washed to the western side of Sumatra, probably the waters of Aceh Singkil and Sibolga, and we are focusing our search operations there today,” he said.
“We continue the search until Monday. After that we will evaluate the operation, whether or not it should be continued. Our standard operating procedure is to launch search and rescue operation for a week, after that make the decision if it should be extended or not.”
The boat captain Yunardi Ardi told the ABC Marongo was carried away from the rest of the group in high waves.
“The waves were high and we all discussed quickly and decided to swim to the nearest island using the last rays of sunset as our guide,” he said.
“The foreigners started paddling, we the Indonesians stayed floating, my missing friend looked weak as he was carried by a wave to the east towards Singkil.”
The Australians Elliot Foote, his girlfriend Steph Weisse and friends Will Teagle and Jordan Short had been in the Banyak Islands off Sumatra to celebrate Foote’s 30th birthday.
Despite the two-day ordeal, the surfers’ trip was to go on. They managed to get word to their families on Wednesday.
Jill Weisse described the nail-biting moment she learned her daughter was safe.
“I heard Wayne just scream upstairs and I just thought, ‘Oh my God someone’s rung to tell us bad news’ … And then I heard him laughing and then I heard him saying: ‘Hey Steph.’ It was just the most unbelievable feeling,” Weisse told Nine’s Today show on Wednesday.
“I just was overcome with emotion to hear her voice.”
Peter Foote said he received a message from his son Elliot simply reading: “Hi dad, I’m alive.”
The relieved father said he just wanted the group to enjoy their holiday and finish the rest of the trip.
“If the surf is great and the weather has come good and they are having a great time with their best mates, there is no point in him coming home,” he told reporters.
“They are there for another eight days. Hopefully, they will feed them up and he will be back out there enjoying it. He has a great story to tell.”
The foreign affairs minister, Penny Wong, said Australia’s thoughts were with the family of the missing crew member.
When tossed into the ocean, the tourists were crossing from Nias to Pinang Island, an island surf retreat.
A second boat, with eight of Foote’s mates, sought shelter at a small island midway before reaching Pinang and raising the alarm.
Australian Associated Press contributed to this report