A shipwrecked mum-of-two drank her own urine so she could breastfeed her children to keep them alive for four days after their boat was smashed apart by a monster wave.
Mariely Chacon, 40, sacrificed her own life to save her six-year-old son and two-year-old daughter after they became stricken at sea.
The sailing trip turned to disaster after a huge wave smashed the vessel’s hull and left a piece of the wreckage and a fridge floating out to sea with the mum, her nanny, and two kids aboard.
Rescue teams are still searching for five more people missing at sea after the boat trip from Venezuela to the Caribbean ended in disaster for the group of family and friends.
Weakening Mariely battled to stave off dehydration so the children had a fighting chance of surviving the harrowing ordeal.
But rescuers found the two children alive, but severely sunburnt and dehydrated, still clinging to their dead mum.
They also found the kids’ 25-year-old nanny Veronica Martinez, who was said to have taken refuge in a fridge on the boat to survive four days at sea in baking temperatures.
Authorities said the mum was believed to have perished from dehydration just hours before rescuers found the survivors.
The group of nine had left Higuerote in their native Venezuela for the uninhabited Caribbean island of La Tortuga off the country’s north coast on September 3 but never made it.
Their disappearance sparked a rescue operation that led to the discovery of three of the survivors on an improvised lifeboat and their transfer to hospital.
Five people including Remis David Camblor – Mariely’s husband and the father of the children – are still said to be missing.
The kids and nanny were rushed to hospital so they could be treated for dehydration and first-degree burns.
Officials have confirmed Mariely, who died from organ failure caused by dehydration, kept her children alive by drinking her own urine so she could breastfeed them.
Her funeral took place on Saturday after officials confirmed her two kids, named as Jose David and Maria Beatriz Camblor Chacon, would pull through although they are thought to be suffering post-traumatic stress along with physical injuries.
The funeral was streamed on YouTube so loved ones and well-wishers could follow it online due to Covid restrictions.
Venezuela’s National Maritime Authority INEA said in a statement: “On September 3 at 9.30am a pleasure boat called Thor left Higuerote for La Tortuga Island with the return scheduled for September 5.
“Port authorities were informed on September 5 around 11pm it had failed to reach its destination or returned to the location it had left from and a search operation was launched.”
It added: “On September 6 at 6.20pm we were alerted to a small white vessel which was drifting off the island of La Orchila that led to the reorientation of the search operation.
“On September 7 at 2.10pm four people were rescued, two of them children,
by coastguard vessel AB Carecare.
“We share the pain of the families of the victims of this terrible tragedy.”
An INEA official acting as a spokesman for the organisation was quoted as saying: “The mother who died kept her children alive by breastfeeding them and drinking her own urine.
“She died three or four hours before the rescue from dehydration after drinking no water for three days.”
He admitted their chances of survival would have been greatly increased if the group had had a radio or GPS or other security devices including flares.
Four of the other five missing people on board the boat have been named as Jose Javier Marcano Narvaez; Alejandro Osorio Graterol; Vianney Carolina Dos Santos Morales and Remis David Camblor, said was to have been acting as the boat skipper.