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Relatives of Emma and Maxi, with the posters of the two missing young people. Photo: Mariluz Báe / Video Pedro J. Quero
Missing persons

Families of missing Argentinian paddleboarders on Costa del Sol tell SUR: 'We can still believe in miracles'

The main concern of the relatives is that the search for the two young men, which has been ongoing for more then a week, will be scaled down or called off completely before they are located

Irene Quirante

Malaga

Friday, 8 September 2023, 10:23

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The families of the two young Argentinian paddleboarders who have been missing out at sea for ten days have spoken to SUR and said "We can still believe in miracles".

The deep sadness and desperation on the faces of the loved ones of Maxi (29) and Emmanuel (34) shows each time they speak to the media, pleading for authorities to not give up the search. They fear that as time runs out, the search will be scaled down and eventually called off. The only clue, so far, has been the paddle board, which authorities discovered 15 nautical miles off the coast, after the two friends set out off from Malaga's La Misericordia beach to watch the sunrise about 7.20am on 27 August.

Spain's coastguard and maritime rescue service led the initial search efforts which involved air and sea resources. They also coordinated the deployment of Guardia Civil, Frontex, Air Force and the Red Cross. However, "the planes have not been leaving for two days," Emmanuel's brother, Ignacio Soria said. "No matter how much they do, until we find them, we can't stop asking for more than what they are doing," he added.

The last time Maxi's father, Jorge Ludvik, spoke to his son was the night before the disappearance: "He told us that he and Emmanuel were going to go out to watch the sunrise on the board and drink mate (an infusion popular in Argentina); then he had to go to work". He, like most of the parents and siblings of the two friends, was in Mar del Plata in Argentina at the time, the city where the two young men are from.

But that day, Maxi never went to the ice cream parlour, where he works, setting off alarm bells. "When we found out, we tried to be patient and think that they would turn up, but the hours were ticking by; the next day we got our tickets to come to Malaga," Emmanuel's brother said.

About 15 hours a day have been spent searching an area of 7,000 square kilometres since 27 August. The search was extended to the Alboran Sea and, later, to the area from Malaga to Torrox and about 12 nautical miles out to sea. Warnings were also issued to vessels sailing in the area to be extremely vigilant.

Only two leads

While the family have praised authorities for their efforts so far, they questioned "failures" in the search, such as why it was not possible to access camera recordings of the area to confirm which direction the pair had taken.

The first clue was the discovery of the paddle board, on the afternoon of Monday 28 August, located 15 nautical miles off the coast southwest of Malaga city. "But we were still left with many doubts, we thought that perhaps they had not entered the water," Jorge said.

Neither the paddle nor the thermos in which they carried the mate drink was found, he said. "The only thing left was a light bulb in a ring that was hooked to the board; we think they left it there so that it would be known that the board was theirs," the father pointed out.

A video taken by a tourist while he was on the promenade cleared up this mystery. As soon as they saw it, they knew it was Maxi and Emmanuel. "From the back, from the position... we could recognise them from 500 metres away," the relatives said.

They accessed the recording on 31 August and, since then, have had no further news. That is why this week they met with the mayor of Malaga, Francisco de la Torre, to plead that the search isn't scaled down. "We give ourselves strength and we are receiving a lot of love and a lot of support, but we will not be able to go on with our lives until this story is closed," they said.

Yellow alert

There was a yellow weather alert for strong northerly winds on the morning Emmanuel and Maxi went missing. "They are not kids who take risks, they never have been; the plan they had was not to go more than 150 metres from the shore, reach the buoy, and stay on the board watching the sunrise," Jorge said. A month before, they had bought the paddleboard on the internet and had already been out four or five times. "I think that because our sea - in Mar del Plata, Argentina - is much rougher than here, they were confident; in the video you can see that at the moment they entered the water, it was relatively calm," Ignacio added.

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