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SOS in sand leads to rescue

Monday 29 August 2016 | Published in Regional


MICRONESIA – Two people stranded for a week on a remote Pacific island have been rescued after signalling for help with a flashlight and an SOS message written in the sand.

It followed a week-long search for Linus and Sabina Jack, both in their 50s, who were reported missing when they failed to reach a nearby island.

The couple left Weno Island with limited supplies and no emergency equipment, the Navy said.

The couple, who had “limited supplies and no emergency equipment”, were found on uninhabited East Fayu island in Micronesia by a US navy air crew, who discovered them on the beach near the makeshift sign, which was spotted by search aircraft, the coast guard said.

The search team had responded to reports that someone on the island was using a flashlight to attract attention.

“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 4.8-metre boat on August 17 but the alarm was raised when they did not arrive at Tamatam island the following day as expected.

During a week-long search, the coast guard said it used 15 vessels and two aircraft to cover nearly 43,000 square kilometres of ocean.

The couple were picked up by a patrol boat and taken to Nomwin atoll.

It is the second such case this year in the region.

In April, three men were rescued from the tiny, uninhabited Micronesian island of Fanadik, after their boat capsized two miles from shore.

The men used palm fronds to make a giant ‘Help’ sign in the sand and used their lifejackets to signal.

They were rescued by a US Navy search team after three days.