Search area for missing US teen boaters extended

This combination made from photos provided by the U.S. Coast Guard shows Perry Cohen, left, and Austin Stephanos, both 14 years old. Cohen and Stephanos were last seen Friday afternoon, July 24, 2015, in the Jupiter, Fla. area buying fuel for their 19-foot boat before embarking on a fishing trip. (U.S. Coast Guard via AP)
This combination made from photos provided by the U.S. Coast Guard shows Perry Cohen, left, and Austin Stephanos, both 14 years old. Cohen and Stephanos were last seen Friday afternoon, July 24, 2015, in the Jupiter, Fla. area buying fuel for their 19-foot boat before embarking on a fishing trip. (U.S. Coast Guard via AP)

ABOVE THE ATLANTIC OCEAN (AP) — As the search for two missing teen boaters from Florida entered its sixth day, Coast Guard crews on Wednesday extended the search area northward, urging vessels in the wide expanse of the Atlantic to report any potential clues they might spot.

The vague rule of thumb is that humans can survive three days without water and three weeks without food, one expert said, but examples defying that abound — especially if people have supplies, wear life jackets or can cling to something. By Wednesday, it still wasn’t clear if 14-year-olds Perry Cohen and Austin Stephanos fell into any of those categories.

“People will constantly surprise you,” said Laurence Gonzales, author of four books on survival. “You’ll think, ‘Surely this guy is dead.’ And you’ll go out and there he will be alive.”

The saga began Friday, when the boys were spotted buying fuel about 1:30 p.m. A line of summer storms moved through the area later that afternoon and when the teens didn’t return on time, the Coast Guard was alerted and launched its search. The 19-foot (5.8-meter) boat was found overturned Sunday more than 180 miles (300 kilometers) north of where the boys started their journey. The search has continued day and night, as their families try to maintain hope against the fading odds of the teens’ survival.

On Wednesday, as the search area grew, crews also planned a “first-light” search near Tybee Island, Georgia, where callers reported seeing something floating in the water Tuesday evening, said Coast Guard Petty Officer Anthony Soto. Crews combed the area Tuesday night but didn’t find anything connected to the search for the missing boys, officials said.

“As time goes on, certainly the probability of finding someone alive does decrease, but we’re still within the timeframe where it’s definitely possible to find somebody alive,” said Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer Ryan Doss, noting others have survived days or even a week at sea. “We know it can happen and we’re hoping it happens again.”

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