Three sailors rescued after writing SOS message in sand

AUSTRALIA (NBC NEWS) — Three Micronesian sailors stranded on a remote pacific island drew a giant SOS message in the sand to attract the attention of rescuers, who found them three days after they went missing at sea.

Australian and U.S. aircraft located the men on Sunday on a tiny island, about 120 miles west of where they had set off in a 23-foot skiff, before veering off course and running out of fuel. Monday, Australian Army soldiers took part in an operation to deliver food and supplies to the sailors.

The soldiers were seen traveling on inflatable boats and wearing masks, and following social distancing measures during the operation. The Australian Navy Ship Canberra sent a helicopter to the rescue, after officials in the U.S. Territory of Guam raised the alarm, following the men’s failure to complete a planned 26-mile trip between two pacific islands.

The helicopter landed on the island on Sunday to check the men’s condition and give them food and water, after its crew spotted their appeal for help, close to their makeshift shelter.

The Australian Navy said a Micronesian Patrol Vessel is headed to the island to pick up the men. The island they were stranded on is a low coral atoll, with forest and scrub, that is home to a seabird rookery and turtle nesting site.

The federated states of Micronesia, in the Western Pacific, groups more than 600 small islands scattered across the ocean.

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