Three men have been rescued from a tiny Pacific island after a giant SOS sign they wrote in the sand was spotted from above.
Officials said the trio had set off from Puluwat atoll in a boat on 30 July and they had intended to travel about 27 miles to Pulap atoll, but they sailed off course and ran out of fuel.
They had been missing in the Micronesia archipelago for nearly three days when their distress signal was spotted by rescue teams in Australian and US aircraft on the uninhabited Pikelot Island.
The Australian defence department said the men were found on Sunday – around 118 miles from where they had set out.
The Australian military ship Canberra was diverted to the area and joined forces with US teams from Guam after being asked to help in the search effort.
Captain Terry Morrison, Canberra’s commanding officer, said: “I am proud of the response and professionalism of all on board as we fulfil our obligation to contribute to the safety of life at sea wherever we are in the world.”
All three men were said to be in good condition, with an Australian military helicopter able to land on the beach and give them food and water.
Officials said a Micronesian patrol vessel was due to pick them up.
SOS originates from Morse code and is an internationally recognised distress signal.
Pikelot is part of the Federated States of Micronesia and one of the uninhabited outer islands of the State of Yap.
It boasts a rich ecosystem, with a seabird rookery, turtle nesting area and mangroves.
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