SOS in sand saves 3 men stranded on Is­land

Times Colonist - - Canada / World - NICK PERRY

WELLINGTON, New Zealand — Three men have been res­cued from a tiny Pa­cific is­land after writ­ing a gi­ant SOS sign in the sand that was spot­ted from above, au­thor­i­ties say.

The men had been miss­ing in the Mi­crone­sia ar­chi­pel­ago for nearly three days when their dis­tress sig­nal was spot­ted Sun­day on un­in­hab­ited Pikelot Is­land by searchers on Aus­tralian and U.S. air­craft, the Aus­tralian de­fence de­part­ment said Mon­day.

The men had ap­par­ently set out from Pu­lawat atoll in a sev­en­metre boat on July 30 and had in­tended to travel about 43 kilo­me­tres to Pu­lap atoll when they sailed off course and ran out of fuel, the de­part­ment said.

Searchers in Guam asked for Aus­tralian help. The mil­i­tary ship, Can­berra, which was re­turn­ing to Aus­tralia from ex­er­cises in Hawaii, di­verted to the area and joined forces with U.S. searchers from Guam. The men were found about 190 kilo­me­tres from where they had set out.

“I am proud of the re­sponse and pro­fes­sion­al­ism of all on board as we ful­fil our obli­ga­tion to con­trib­ute to the safety of life at sea wher­ever we are in the world,” said the Can­berra’s com­mand­ing of­fi­cer, Capt. Terry

Mor­ri­son, in a state­ment.

The men were found in good con­di­tion, and an Aus­tralian mil­i­tary he­li­copter was able to land on the beach and give them food and wa­ter. A Mi­crone­sian pa­trol ves­sel was due to pick them up.

SOS is an in­ter­na­tion­ally rec­og­nized dis­tress sig­nal that orig­i­nates from Morse code.

An Aus­tralian Army he­li­copter lands on Pikelot Is­land in Mi­crone­sia to res­cue three men who had been stranded for three days.

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