10 Apr 2016

Castaways spell 'help' for Pacific rescue

8:57 am on 10 April 2016

Three stranded men were rescued from a deserted Pacific island after they used palm fronds to spell 'help' and waved their lifejackets to attract attention.

A United States Navy aircrew spotted the sailors on the remote island of Fanadik, in the north Pacific near Guam. They told the men's relatives and the ships that were searching for them where they were.

The trio were reported missing after their 19-foot skiff failed to arrive at the island of Chuuk in the Federated States of Micronesia, to catch an early morning flight on Monday.

A small boat then picked the men up and took them to Pulap in Federated States of Micronesia, the US Coast Guard said.

The sailors were back to safety three days after going missing.

The US Coast Guard said a large wave swamped the vessel during the night, and the men swam more than three kilometres to Fanadik, where they were rescued.

Spokesman Lieutenant William White said in a statement: "Our combined efforts coupled with the willingness of many different resources to come together and help, led to the successful rescue of these three men in a very remote part of the Pacific".