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3 men rescued from Pacific island after writing SOS in sand

Three missing men were found after searchers spotted their SOS sign in the sand at Pikelot Island.
Three missing men were found in good condition Sunday after searchers spotted their SOS sign in the sand at the uninhabited Pikelot Island in the Federated States of Micronesia.
(Australian Defense Force)

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 defense department said Monday.

The men had apparently set out from Pulawat atoll in a 23-foot boat on July 30 and had intended to travel about 27 miles 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.

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The men were found about 118 miles from where they had set out.

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


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