Sailors found by Australian and US forces after SOS in sand on a Micronesia island

Sailors found by Australian and US forces after SOS in sand on a Micronesia island

Three missing sailors have been found on a tiny island in the western Pacific after they wrote an outsized SOS in the sand that was spotted from the air, according to a statement by Australia’s Defence Ministry.

The men were found on Sunday after they had been missing for three days and media reports say they are in good health.

Their call for help, written on the beach of Pikelot Island, 190 kilometres west of where they had set out, was seen by Australian and US aircraft, the statement said.

A ship, the HMAS Canberra, headed to the sailors’ aid and a helicopter landed on the beach, bringing water and food for the men and carrying out identity and health checks.

The men were reportedly sailing between the atolls Poluwat and Pulap, a journey of 42 kilometres, when they veered off course and ran out of fuel.

Pikelot Island, which is only 450 metres long, is part of the Caroline Islands, a scattered archipelago in the western Pacific.

A Micronesian patrol vessel, FSS Independence, is heading to the island to pick up the men.

The Federated States of Micronesia, colloquially called Micronesia only, is an island nation in Oceania, made up of about 607 islands that stretch for 2 900 km through the Carolinas Archipelago in the Pacific Ocean, east of the Philippines and north of Papua-New Guinea.