Missing sailors rescued from Pacific island after SOS signal spotted in the sand

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By Danielle Wallace

Three men were rescued from a small, uninhabited Pacific island after writing a giant SOS sign in the sand, the Australian Department of Defense said on Monday.

The men had been missing in the Micronesia archipelago near the Philippines for three days before their internationally recognized distress signal, which originated from Morse code, was spotted Sunday on the uninhabited Pikelot Island by searchers on Australian and U.S. aircraft.

Located in the western Pacific Ocean, the Federated States of Micronesia is comprised of more than 600 islands. The three-person crew aboard a 23-foot skiff set out from Pulawat atoll on Thursday. They intended to travel about 27 miles to Pulap atoll when they sailed off course and ran out of fuel, the defense department said in a statement.

The Australian Defense Force was asked for search and rescue support by the Rescue and Coordination Center in Guam on Saturday. The military ship, Canberra, which was returning to Australia from exercises in Hawaii, diverted to the area and joined forces with U.S. searchers from Guam.

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