The men, aged 22 and 24, from Myanmar (formerly known as Burma) were on a 30ft wooden fishing boat with 18 others when it sank in heavy seas off Australia’s north coast on December 23.
Both men were standing inside the large insulated pink ice box when they were spotted by a customs border protection patrol helicopter pilot on Saturday. They pair were rescued and flown to a hospital on Thursday Island off the coast of Queensland.
Maritime Safety Authority spokeswomen Tracey Jiggins told Reuters: “For them to have been spotted in a huge body of water is amazing.”
Helicopter pilot, Terry Gadenne told Australian television that the pair drank about four pints of water within seconds of being hoisted aboard the helicopter.
Hospital officials have said the men were hungry and dehydrated but in good condition and would be released later today. The pair will be questioned by police and immigration officials who will attempt to prove their identities. They have not yet determined how the pair survived and what they did for food and water.
Officials do not know where the fishing boat sank but believe the other fishermen would certainly have perished so no search for survivors is planned.
The fishermen were rescued in the Torres Strait is between Australia and Papua New Guinea which are shark infested waters regularly fished by fishing vessels from Asia – both licensed and illegal.