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3 Men Rescued from Pacific Island After Writing ‘Help’ With Palm Leaves

Three men who were stranded on a remote Pacific island for more than a week were rescued by the U.S. Coast Guard after spelling out “HELP” on a beach using palm leaves.

The lost men were found on Pikelot, an uninhabited island about 100 miles northwest of their home, alongside their damaged boat on Sunday by an American military aircraft, the U.S. Coast Guard Sector Guam said in a statement.

The men, who were experienced mariners in their 40s, set sail on March 31 from Polowat Atoll, an island that is part of the Federated States of Micronesia, in a 20-foot open skiff powered by an outboard motor. After their unintended delay, the Coast Guard said, the men had been safely returned home Tuesday evening.

The search began on Saturday when a woman sent out a distress call to the Coast Guard, reporting that her three uncles had not returned home after almost a week away. The Coast Guard embarked on the search with a U.S. Navy aircraft crew.

Pikelot is a tiny dot in the Pacific Ocean covered in palm trees and bushes, measuring less than 2,000 feet in length. The Micronesian island was part of a search area that the Coast Guard said spanned more than 100,000 square miles.

This week’s rescue was not the first from Pikelot involving huge letters spelled in the sand. In 2020, three other men whose boat ran out of fuel wrote “SOS” in the sand, allowing them to be spotted by American rescuers.

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