3 men were rescued from an uninhabited Pacific island after they got stranded and wrote 'SOS' in the sand

Michelle Mark,Associated Press
micronesian island rescue
In this photo provided by the Australian Defence Force, an Australian Army helicopter lands on Pikelot Island in the Federated States of Micronesia, where three men were found, Sunday, Aug. 2, 2020, safe and healthy after missing for three days. Australian Defence Force via Associated Press
  • American and Australian searchers rescued three men who were stranded on a tiny Pacific island for days and drew a giant "SOS" in the sand.

  • Officials said the men went missing in the Micronesia archipelago for nearly three days after sailing off course and running out of fuel.

  • They were discovered roughly 118 miles away from where they had set out, from the Pulawat atoll.

  • The men were found in good condition and given food and water from an Australian military helicopter while a patrol vessel arrived to pick them up.

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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 US 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 US searchers from Guam.

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

In a statement, officials from the US's Andersen Air Force Base in Guam said Hawaii Air National Guardsmen searched for roughly three hours in their KC-135 Stratotanker before finding the missing men.

"We were toward the end of our search pattern," US Air Force Lt. Col. Jason Palmeira-Yen, the KC-135 pilot, said in a statement. "We turned to avoid some rain showers and that's when we looked down and saw an island, so we decide to check it out and that's when we saw SOS and a boat right next to it on the beach."

Palmeira-Yen said the rescuers then called in the Australian Navy, which had two helicopters nearby.

From there we called in the Australian Navy because they had two helicopters nearby that could assist and land on the island."

"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 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.

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