‘SOS’ in the sand saves Pacific island mariners (Photo)

'SOS' in the sand saves Pacific island mariners (Photo)
'SOS' in the sand saves Pacific island mariners (Photo)

Three men have been rescued from a tiny Pacific island after writing a giant SOS in the sand that was spotted from above, authorities said.

The men had been missing in the Micronesia archipelago for nearly three days when their distress signal was spotted on Sunday on uninhabited Pikelot Island by searchers on Australian and US aircraft, the Australian defence department said on Monday.

The men had apparently set out from Pulawat Atoll in a 7-metre (23-foot) boat on July 30, intending to travel about 43km (27 miles) to Pulap Atoll but sailing off course and running out of fuel instead, the department said.

Searchers in Guam asked for Australian help. The military ship, Canberra, which was returning to Australia from exercises in Hawaii, diverted to the area and joined forces with US searchers from Guam.

The men were found about 190km (118 miles) from where they had set out.

“I am proud of the response and professionalism of all on board as we fulfill our obligation to contribute to the safety of life at sea wherever we are in the world,” Canberra’s commanding officer Captain Terry Morrison said in a statement.

The men were found in good condition, and an Australian military helicopter was able to land on the beach and give them food and water. A Micronesian patrol vessel was due to pick them up.

SOS is an internationally recognised distress signal that originates from Morse code.

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