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3 men stranded on a Pacific island were rescued by spelling ‘help’ with leaves : NPR

The “HELP” sign made from palm leaves is displayed on Pikelot Atoll.

US Coast Guard/US Coast Guard


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US Coast Guard/US Coast Guard


The “HELP” sign made from palm leaves is displayed on Pikelot Atoll.

US Coast Guard/US Coast Guard

The US Coast Guard and Navy successfully rescued three sailors stranded on a small Pacific island for more than a week after spelling “help” in the sand with palm fronds.

The three men, all in their 40s, left Easter Sunday on a 20-foot skiff from Polowat to Pikelot (both places are two small Pacific islands that make up the Micronesia archipelago), the Coast Guard said .

Six days later, on Saturday, a woman called the Coast Guard to report that her uncles had not returned from Pikelot, which is about 100 nautical miles from where they started. A Coast Guard rescue center on Guam initiated a search, but encountered difficulties due to weather conditions and resource availability. A Navy aircraft stationed in Japan and the Coast Guard ship, Oliver Henry, then joined the mission.

Crews searched an area of ​​more than 78,000 square nautical miles, and Navy aircraft spotted the trio’s palm-leaf message the next day.

“This act of ingenuity was critical in guiding rescue efforts right on scene,” said Lt. Chelsea Garcia, search and rescue mission coordinator.

The plane crews deployed a radio and other supplies, and the men reported that they had food and water, that they were in good health and that they had their boat, although it was damaged. On Tuesday, the men were returned to Polowat.

“Whether we are here to protect valuable resources or save lives, we are not just visitors: we are members of this vibrant maritime community that connects all of these islands,” said Lt. Ray Cerrato, USCGC commander. Oliver Henry. . “This recent operation near Pikelot Atoll demonstrates the kind of difference we can make. It is not just about fulfilling a duty; it’s about the real human connections we make and the lives we touch.

News Source : www.npr.org
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