4 Australians missing in Indonesia after their 30th birthday cruise have been found alive while floating on surfboards


August 14, 2023 | 10:55 p.m

Four surfers who went missing during their 30th birthday cruise have been found after their boat got trapped in bad weather off Indonesia.

Elliot Foote, Steph Weiss, Jordan Short and Will Teagle were found Tuesday after a days-long search.

The group disappeared after their charter boat failed to return from a remote island off North Sumatra on Sunday.

A Google document used by the four families and seen by The Daily Telegraph has been updated to read: “All four Australians have been found alive”.

The four friends were reportedly found by rescuers on surfboards in the waters off the westernmost islands of Indonesia.

The group was on a surfing trip for her birthday and was traveling on a longtail boat to Banyak Island near Banda Aceh when the weather hit her.

Elliot Foote and Steve Weiss are among four Australian surfers who have been found after they disappeared in Indonesia.

A search began on Monday, with Indonesian authorities among those searching for the missing boat.

The day before, Foote, from northern New South Wales, had written on Instagram that it was “very good” to be back in Indonesia.

“Soho gulah Sorake…so good to be back in India after so many years. Sharing waves with friends and the Queen,” Foote wrote.

“Starting the trek hiking in the North Sumatra jungle and seeing the Orangutan was an amazing experience and something I look forward to doing again for a longer period and going deeper.

“Bukit Lawang is a beautiful place with such good people.”

Jordan Short, another Australian on a trip to a remote island off northern Sumatra.

The message was linked to photos of Foote surfing alongside his partner, Weiss.

Australian and Indonesian search crews, all from New South Wales, were dispatched on Monday to try to find the group.

Indonesian authorities, a local fisherman, and a private jet chartered by the Australian government to survey the waves.

The search effort, also looking for three missing Indonesian crew members from the boat, was called off at sunset.

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‘Every minute counts’: Dad asks for help

Foote’s father, Peter Foote, tells Nine that he tried to text his son before Sunday’s disappearance.

After a sleepless night on Monday, Foote said he remains optimistic about the chances of finding his son safe and well.

“Obviously the boat has food and water and the boat has a roof so everything should be fine,” he said.

“But it does not contain electronic objects: no navigation elements, no communication elements (…) IPERBs, GPS (Global Positioning System) devices.”

The group had gone on the trip to celebrate Bigfoot’s 30th birthday.

Foote, from the eastern suburbs of Sydney, doubted the boat had capsized and thought it likely ran out of fuel.

He urged cooperation between the Australian and Indonesian authorities.

“Maybe they need to expand the area if they’re going to drift,” he said.

“This morning they will intensify and we will be bringing them back soon.

“I just hope we can see some eyes in the sky, there are so many islands.”

Foote said the news of his son’s disappearance was “very difficult”.

“You feel it physically, in the stomach, everywhere,” he said.

Rescuers reportedly found the friends floating on surfboards.

“It really hurts. Anyone who’s been through it will know and understand.

“I’ve never felt like this before. My heart hurts. It’s just terrible.”

Foot said he hoped the Australian authorities could “expedite” the handing over of the planes for inspection.

They joined the local fishing trawlers and charter boats that were helping the Indonesian authorities.

Foote said the surfing community has also “got together” to help in the desperate quest.

“It’s going to be a long, long day for them,” he said.

“I don’t know how long their supplies will last.

“The sooner, the better really. Every minute counts.”

A photo from the trip shared by Foote before the disappearance.

Christmas adventure turns into disaster

The group of 12 Australians in total were traveling in Sumatra and Nias Island to celebrate Bigfoot’s 30th birthday.

On Instagram, Bigfoot shared details and photos of the groups’ trips, including to the famous Bukit Lawang Nature Park.

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Setting off on Banyak Island, the group of 12 is understood to have separated into two boats.

One of the boats took refuge on Sarang Alo, an island between the two the group was traveling between on Sunday.

The eight tourists on board arrived safely at their destination on Sunday evening.

The other, which contains the four missing persons, is understood to have chosen to continue travelling.

Earlier, a spokesperson for the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said Australian families had been informed of the search.

“A search and rescue operation is underway, following reports of a ship missing off the western coast of Indonesia,” the spokesman said.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade is providing consular assistance to the families of four Australians on board the ship.

It works closely with the Indonesian authorities to support search and rescue efforts.

Our thoughts are with the families and friends of the missing during this difficult time.

Foote described the group as “resilient, energetic kids”, and said he “hoped to get a call any time”.

His son, Elliott, a carpenter, was a former student of the Scottish College.

He recently moved to Murwillumbah in northern New South Wales to be with Weisse.

The elder Bigfoot had paid for his son to go on a fateful trip to Indonesia with 11 of his “best mates”.

The group were all high school friends from Sydney and fellow surfers from northern New South Wales.

In a statement released through DFAT, the families of the four Australians said they hoped to hear good news soon.

“Our hearts ache at the thought of Elliot, Steve, Will and Jordan being lost at sea,” said the four families.

“We continue to pray and hope that they will be found.

One of the missing Australians found by rescuers was Will Tigley.

“We would like to thank the Indonesian authorities and the Australian government for their continued assistance while the search effort continues.

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“We ask the media to respect the privacy of our family and friends during this difficult time.”

Teagle’s sister, Amy, took to social media Monday, asking anyone who might be traveling in the area to help with the search.

“He lost my brother and three colleagues,” Tegli said.

“Please if you know of anyone in Sumatra who can be of any help, let me know.”

Local authorities are scrambling to find a missing boat

Speaking to the media on Monday, the head of Indonesia’s National Search and Rescue Agency, Nias Octavianto, said search teams have been dispatched to find the missing.

“Last night Penang Resort reported that a speedboat with 10 passengers on board had arrived in Penang Island (around 10.18pm local time), while another speedboat with seven people on board had yet to arrive,” he said.

We have deployed three ships… They are now heading towards the search and rescue site. However, the problem is that (the missing ship) is a basic wooden boat without any tracking devices or the like.”

Poor weather and visibility hampered the search parties’ ability to locate the missing Aussies.

The research comes on the heels of a series of high-profile incidents involving Australians, particularly in the restive province of Aceh in Indonesia.

Noosa man Bodhi Risby-Jones has been ordered to pay $39,500 to the families of people involved in an alleged drunken rampage on Simeulue Island.

The island is also located off the west coast of Sumatra near where the four Australians disappeared on Sunday.

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