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U.S. Coast Guard rescues men who'd been adrift for 33 days

November 30, 2011 | 12:40 pm

The U.S. Coast Guard rescues people all the time -- not exactly news. But its recent rescue is noteworthy for two reasons.

First off, the two rescued men -- from the Pacific island of Kiribati -- went missing Oct. 22, meaning they were adrift for a stunning 33 days before they managed to climb ashore on the Namdrik Atoll, which is part of the Marshall Islands in Micronesia.

It was not immediately clear how the men, ages 53 and 26, survived the trek, which ended about 300 miles from where it started, or what caused them to lose their way in the first place. The men were weak but otherwise in "reasonable" condition when they were rescued, according to ABC's Radio Australia.

But what's really unusual about the incident is that ... it's not all that unusual.

Such rescues happen more often than you'd think, especially involving Kiribati, a hodge podge collection of tiny islands and atolls in the central Pacific Ocean, locals say. Rescues typically involve fishermen and sailors who go missing and end up stranded –- and, if they're lucky, rescued.

"As odd as it may seem, the Marshall Islands hosts Kiribas drifters quite frequently," Giff Johnson, editor of the Marshall Islands Journal, told Radio Australia. "It's not that it happens all the time. Let's just say people from Kiribas are very hardy individuals. They get lost on a little boat and manage to persevere. It is an amazing thing."

After the men's boat went missing, the U.S. Coast Guard in Honolulu supervised an air and sea search -- and also set about figuring out where the men might end up, based on currents, reported IBTraveler.

The Coast Guard has had some practice doing this. It rescued 15 people from an remote Pacific island in July, according to the Department of Homeland Security.

As for the recently rescued men, they were reportedly being taken to the Marshall Islands for treatment, and then a plane trip back home to Kiribati.


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-- Rene Lynch
Twitter / renelynch