The search for two 14-year-old boys from South Florida who disappeared while on a fishing trip in the Atlantic Ocean entered a seventh day on Thursday amid questions about whether the U.S. Coast Guard would soon consider ending the operation.
“This is 100 percent still a search and rescue. It’s not going to be a recovery just yet,” said Petty Officer Jon-Paul Rios.
Coast Guard Captain Mark Fedor visited the families of Austin Stephanos and Perry Cohen on Wednesday to refute an erroneous news report that the search for the boys was being called off. The families have been given daily updates by telephone since Friday, Rios said.
Authorities had searched 40,000 square nautical miles, an area about the size of Arkansas or North Carolina, by Wednesday evening but found no sign of the boys.
The search has been extended to Charleston, South Carolina, 500 miles north and 100 miles out to sea from Jupiter, Florida, where the teens launched their boat on Friday afternoon.
The last confirmed sighting of Stephanos and Cohen, who were fishing buddies and neighbors in Palm Beach County, Florida, occurred on Friday afternoon as they were buying fuel in Jupiter.
Jupiter commercial fisherman Jim Dulin told the Palm Beach Post that he was surprised on Friday afternoon to see what he now suspects was the boys’ boat heading out to sea at the same time other boats were heading in the opposite direction for safety as a visible line of thunderstorms approached.
Their overturned 19-foot boat was found two days later 180 miles north of Jupiter. One life vest was found by the boat.
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