3 men spell ‘HELP’ with palm fronds, rescued from remote Pacific Island Pikelot


A US Navy and Coast Guard operation on Tuesday rescued three mariners stranded on a tiny Pacific Ocean islet for more than a week after the trio spelled out “HELP” using palm fronds laid on a white-sand beach. The mission also unexpectedly turned into a family reunion. The three men had been planning to fish the waters around the Pikelot Atoll, part of Micronesia, on March 31 when their 20-foot open skiff was caught by swells and its outboard motor was damaged, according to US Coast Guard officials.

They scrambled ashore on uninhabited Pikelot, but their radio ran out of battery power before they could call for help. So the castaways gathered palm fronds from the 31-acre island, arranged them to spell out “HELP” on the beach, and waited, according to a Coast Guard statement.

The names of the stranded men have not been released by the Coast Guard, and CNN attempts to contact their relatives have not gotten replies.

For a week, the men lived off coconut meat, but they did have fresh water from a small well on the island, which is sometimes visited by fishers in the region, Coast Guard officials said.

The search for the men began on April 6, when one of their relatives called rescue officials in the US Pacific territory of Guam, saying they had not returned to Polowat Atoll, an island more than 100 miles away, where the three started their voyage on Easter Sunday.

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