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“Help” sign on shore posts for Navy and Coast Guard pilots for men stranded on a Pacific atoll

“Help” sign on shore posts for Navy and Coast Guard pilots for men stranded on a Pacific atoll

Three men stranded on an uninhabited Pacific island for more than a week survived and used palm fronds to spell out the word “Help” on the beach — leading to their rescue by Navy and Coast Guard pilots who spotted the sign from several thousand feet in the air.

They set out on March 31 on a 20-foot boat with an outboard motor from Pulawat Atoll, a small island with an estimated population of about 1,000 in the Federated States of Micronesia about 1,800 miles (3,000 kilometers) east of the Philippines.

The men were fishing when they struck a coral reef, tearing a hole in the bottom of the boat and causing water to enter it, Lt. Keith Arnold said in a Coast Guard video.

The statement said that a Coast Guard ship, the Oliver Henry, picked up the men on Tuesday and returned them to the atoll where they had set out nine days earlier and 100 miles (160 kilometers) away.

They were “very excited” to be reunited with their families, Coast Guard L. Cmdr. Christine Ejesomar, search and rescue mission coordinator, said in a Coast Guard video.

When their boat was damaged, “they knew they wouldn't be able to get home and would need to go ashore,” Arnold said.

On April 6, a relative reported them missing at a Coast Guard facility on Guam, saying the men in their 40s had not returned from Pikelot Atoll. The search initially began with an area of ​​78,000 square miles (200,000 square kilometers).

A US Navy P-8 Poseidon aircrew from Kadena Air Base in Japan discovered the three on Pikelot and dropped the life packages. The next day, a Coast Guard HC-130J Hercules plane from Air Station Barbers Point in Hawaii dropped a radio that the men used to report they were thirsty but all was well, Arnold said.

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“The sign of help was very clear. We could see it from two thousand feet in the air,” Arnold said.

a Similar rescue There was an incident involving three men from Pulawat Atoll in Pikelot Atoll in 2020. These men wrote the word “SOS” on the beach.

An Australian military helicopter crew landed and gave them food and water before a Micronesian patrol ship could pick them up.