Stranded sailors rescued from remote Pacific island after spelling ‘HELP’ with palm tree leaves

Stranded sailors rescued from remote Pacific island after spelling ‘HELP’ with palm tree leaves
  • PublishedApril 12, 2024

The US Coast Guard said the sign was a “crucial factor” in discovering the three men. The sailors, who were in their 40s, survived on coconuts during their week-long ordeal.

Three sailors were saved from a tiny uninhabited Pacific island after forming a giant “HELP” sign using palm tree leaves.

The three men were found on Tuesday evening after being stranded for more than a week on the minute Pikelot Atoll, part of the Federated States of Micronesia.

The trio, who have not been identified but are all in their 40s and related to one another, survived on coconuts.

The crew of USCGC Oliver Henry (WPC 1140) make contact with three mariners stranded on Pikelot Atoll, Yap State,
Pic:U.S. Coast Guard
Image:The crew of USCGC Oliver Henry making contact with three sailors stranded on Pikelot Atoll. Pic: US Coast Guard

They had travelled to a different atoll – Polowat – on Easter Sunday on a small 20 ft boat. An atoll is a ring-shaped coral island.

They were reported missing by a woman who said her three uncles had failed to return home.

The initial search area was more than 78,000 square nautical miles.

But their sign was spotted by the US Coast Guard, and the men were rescued with help from the US Navy.

“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. This act of ingenuity was pivotal in guiding rescue efforts directly to their location,” Lt. Chelsea Garcia said in a statement.

The crew of USCGC Oliver Henry (WPC 1140) helps transfer the belongings of three mariners stranded on Pikelot Atoll.
Pic: U.S. Coast Guard photo
Image:The boat helps transfer the belongings of the three stranded sailors. Pic: US Coast Guard

Pikelot Atoll is an uninhabited coral island about 1,000 miles north of Papua New Guinea that is occasionally visited by fishing boats.

Micronesia, which the atoll is part of, is a collection of about 600 islands that cover a huge expanse of the western Pacific.

Pic: U.S. Coast Guard
Image:Pic: US Coast Guard

The rescue operation was hindered by poor weather and a lack of planes, the coastguard said. “Persistent efforts” eventually saw a coastguard boat, already at sea in Micronesia, diverted to join the rescue.

A plane also dropped survival packages and a radio onto the island.

Using the radio, the sailors said they were in “good health, had access to food and water, and recovered their skiff, which unfortunately sustained damage, rendering it and its outboard engine non-functional,” the coastguard said.

After they were rescued, the trio were taken back to Polowat.

This is not the first time that authorities have rescued sailors stranded on the island. In 2020, three Micronesians were found on Pikelot by the Australian Defense Force, after they spelled out “SOS” using palm tree leaves.

SOURCE: SKYNEWS

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *