‘HELP’ written in palm fronds leads to atoll rescue

Help spelled out on beach

PIKELOT ATOLL, Micronesia — A group of castaways was rescued by doing something you may typically see in movies.

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The group of mariners had been stranded on a tiny islet in the Pacific and used palm fronds to write out “HELP” on the beach.

The Coast Guard said the three sailors had been planning to fish near Pikelot Atoll in Micronesia on March 31. Their 20-foot skiff was hit by swells, damaging the boat’s motor.

They were able to get on land, but despite having a radio, they couldn’t reach anyone because the batteries had died, so they started gathering palm fronds and spelled out “HELP” and just waited, living off coconut meat and fresh water from a well on the island, CNN reported.

The Coast Guard started searching on April 6 after getting a call from one of the men’s relatives, saying they hadn’t returned to Polowat Atoll, 100 miles away.

A U.S. Navy P-8A reconnaissance jet from Okinawa, Japan, saw the call for help on April 7, which according to officials was “crucial” to finding them as the search area was more than 103,000 square miles.

The Navy dropped survival packs and then gave their location to the Coast Guard which sent a plane from Hawaii which gave the man a radio allowing them a means of communication.

The Oliver Henry reached the island on April 9 and it just so happened that the guardsman was actually a relative of the men.

Petty Officer 2nd Class Eugene Halishlius spoke to them in their native language, surprising the three stranded men who later learned that one was a third cousin of Halishlius’ and the other two men were the petty officer’s fourth cousins, CNN reported.

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