Kuwait Times

Castaways saved thanks to ‘HELP’ palm fronds


LOS ANGELES: Sometimes all you have to do is ask for “HELP”: That’s what three men stranded on a deserted Pacific island learned earlier this week, writing the message in palm fronds which were spotted by US rescuers. The trio, all experience­d mariners in their 40s, became stranded on

a lonely island after setting off from Micronesia’s Polowat Atoll on March 31 in their motor-powered skiff which subsequent­ly experience­d damage. They were reported missing last Saturday by a woman who told the US Coast Guard her three uncles never returned from Pikelot Atoll, a tiny island in the remote Western Pacific.

“In a remarkable testament to their will to be found, the mariners spelled out ‘HELP’ on the beach using palm leaves, a crucial factor in their discovery,” said search and rescue mission coordinato­r Lieutenant Chelsea Garcia.

She reported that the trio was discovered Sunday on Pikelot Atoll by a US Navy aircraft. “This act of

ingenuity was pivotal in guiding rescue efforts directly to their location,” she said.

The aircraft crew dropped survival packages, and rescuers one day later dropped a radio which the mariners used to communicat­e that they were in good health, had access to food and water, and that the motor on their 20-foot (six-meter) skiff was no longer working.

On Tuesday morning a ship rescued the trio and their equipment, returning them to Polowat Atoll, the Coast Guard said. In August 2020, three Micronesia­n sailors also stranded on Pikelot were rescued after Australian and US warplanes spotted a giant “SOS” they had scrawled on the beach. — AFP

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