Miracle as lost fishermen found alive hours after official search was called off

Fishermen who were lost at sea for nearly a week have been found alive hours after an official search was called off in Australia.

Derek Robinson, 48, and Tony Higgins, 57, were discovered floating in their boat on Thursday morning local time.

Their 10 metre wooden-hulled fishing boat had conked out after experiencing engine trouble.

Searchers gave up on finding the pair alive before they managed to contact the police.

They were picked up by rescue crews more than 185 miles from where they set off last Thursday morning.

Robinson and Higgins had left Coffin Bay near Port Lincoln on the Eyre Peninsula in boat 'Margrel' last Thursday afternoon, heading for Goolwa.

However, the following morning they got a message to a friend revealing the engine was giving them trouble and they were planning to head for Kangaroo Island to get it fixed.

But when they were not heard from again a major search effort began scouring a 103,000 sq km area for any sign of them.

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority and Royal Australian Air Force were both involved.

Police believed they may have been taken off course by the weather.

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SA Police Superintendent Paul Bahr had previously told 9News : "Given the length of time that has elapsed we are very concerned for their safety and their welfare.

"We know they had life jackets, we know they had flares, what we're unaware of at this stage is whether they had an EPIRB or whether the VHF radio fitted to boat was operational."

The search was called off at 8pm on Wednesday night but two hours later the missing men managed to contact police who then worked through the night to locate the boat.

It was found to be stranded in Salt Creek.

Keith Parkes, mayor of Alexandrina, which includes Goolwa, told ABC the men were "so lucky".

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