Couple rescued after US plane spots SOS message in sand

This couple, who were stranded for a week on the uninhabited East Fayu island in Micronesia, were found by a US Navy air crew who located them after spotting their SOS sign in the sand.
This couple, who were stranded for a week on the uninhabited East Fayu island in Micronesia, were found by a US Navy air crew who located them after spotting their SOS sign in the sand.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

WELLINGTON • Two people stranded for a week on a remote Pacific island have been rescued after a search aircraft spotted their SOS message in the sand, the United States Coast Guard said yesterday.

The couple, who had "limited supplies and no emergency equipment", were found on the uninhabited East Fayu island in Micronesia by a US Navy air crew, who discovered them on the beach near the makeshift sign, according to the coast guard statement.

The search team was responding to reports that someone on the island was using a flashlight to attract attention when they saw the survivors, the statement said.

"The search and rescue operation for Linus and Sabina Jack has been successfully completed," the US Embassy in Kolonia, Micronesia, posted on its Facebook page.

"Since the island was potentially uninhabited and knowing (they) had a flashlight in their boat, we directed our search aircraft to overfly the island."

The couple had set out from Weno Island in Micronesia in a 5m-long boat on Aug 17, but the alarm was raised when they did not arrive at Tamatam Island the following day as expected.

During the week-long search, the Coast Guard said it used 15 vessels and two aircraft to cover an area of nearly 43,000 sq km of ocean. The couple were picked up by a patrol boat and taken to Nomwin atoll.

It is the second similar rescue in the region in recent months. In April, three men were rescued from the uninhabited Micronesian island of Fanadik after a large wave capsized their skiff offshore.

Stranded north of Papua New Guinea, the men arranged palm fronds in the sand to spell out the word "HELP".

It took three days for a crew aboard a navy plane to spot them waving life jackets next to their sign.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, WASHINGTON POST

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 29, 2016, with the headline 'Couple rescued after US plane spots SOS message in sand'. Print Edition | Subscribe