'SOS' on the sand saves lives of three men stranded on a Micronesian island

WION Web Team New Delhi, India Aug 04, 2020, 03.09 PM(IST)

This handout photo taken on August 2, 2020 and received on August 4 from the Australian Defence Force shows an Australian Army ARH Tiger helicopter landing near the letters "SOS" (C) on a beach on Pikelot Island Photograph:( AFP )

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Three mariners were rescued after flagging an SOS message on the beach sand

2020 has been an uncanny year on all fronts, from a raging pandemic to natural disasters to political upheavals, this year has seen it all.

In another uncanny yet good news coming in from a tiny Pacific island, three mariners were rescued after flagging an SOS message on the beach sand.

Thrown off course

Last Thursday, the three men intended to travel on a boat for 42 kilometres (26 miles) from Pulawat to Pulap in the Federated States of Micronesia.

After taking on the journey, mariners fell off the right path, which led to an uninhabited island called Pikelot, which was 190 kilometres (118 miles) away from where they had originally planned to go. After running out of fuel in the ocean, they were forced to take refuge on the stranded island, Australian and US authorities reported.

This handout photo taken on August 2, 2020 and received on August 4 from the Australian Defence Force shows the letters "SOS" (L) on a beach on Pikelot Island where three men were found in good condition after being missing for three days. Three Micronesian sailors stranded on a tiny island in the remote Western Pacific were rescued after Australian and US warplanes spotted a giant "SOS" they had scrawled on the beach, officials said.
This handout photo taken on August 2, 2020 and received on August 4 from the Australian Defence Force shows the letters "SOS" (L) on a beach on Pikelot Island where three men were found in good condition after being missing for three days. Three Micronesian sailors stranded on a tiny island in the remote Western Pacific were rescued after Australian and US warplanes spotted a giant "SOS" they had scrawled on the beach, officials said. | AFP
 

The island where they got lost lies 800 kilometres (500 miles) from Guam. When people realised that the man hadn’t arrived in Pulap, a search and rescue operation was launched by the US Coast Guard in Guam.

A US Air Force KC-135 noticed the SOS sign by the beach. Three men were found after three hours of operation.

"SOS" saved their lives

Apparently, the aircraft was just nearing the end of three hour long operation when they an SOS sign on the beach, after which they also spotted a boat. The pilot made a post on Facebook which further claimed that they sought the assistance of Australian Navy after which they were rescued.

This handout photo taken on August 2, 2020 and received on August 4 from the Australian Defence Force shows an Australian Army ARH Tiger helicopter landing near the letters "SOS" (C) on a beach on Pikelot Island where three men were found in good condition after being missing for three days. Three Micronesian sailors stranded on a tiny island in the remote Western Pacific were rescued after Australian and US warplanes spotted a gian
This handout photo taken on August 2, 2020 and received on August 4 from the Australian Defence Force shows an Australian Army ARH Tiger helicopter landing near the letters "SOS" (C) on a beach on Pikelot Island where three men were found in good condition after being missing for three days. Three Micronesian sailors stranded on a tiny island in the remote Western Pacific were rescued after Australian and US warplanes spotted a giant SOS sign | AFP
 

"We were toward the end of our search pattern. 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. From there we called in the Australian Navy because they had two helicopters nearby that could assist and land on the island”, the pilot, Lt Col  Jason Palmeira-Yen, said in a post made on Facebook.

Supplies for the distressed men were dropped by Australia’s assault ship HMAS Canberra, while they were also checked for major injuries. Their identities were then confirmed and they were rescued from the island.