Five Marshall Islands were safe after being swept away for nine days | Instant News

The group, which reportedly included an 11-year-old boy, left Majuro Atoll on April 21 for Arno Atoll, about 24 kilometers to the east.

Usually it takes less than two hours by speed boat to reach Arno from the capital.

Five Marshall Islands in a small boat floated to Jaluit Atoll after nine days of being swept away
Photo: RNZ Pacific / Giff Johnson

Although the small boat did not appear in Arno on the same day it departed from Majuro, the authorities were not notified of the missing ship until more than 48 hours later.

Marshall Islands patrols, national airlines and others began searching last Friday and continued for several days without success.

Then this Thursday, the ship reportedly flew to the southern part of Jaluit Atoll, about 241 kilometers southwest of Majuro.

“We have received information from the Mayor of Jaluit through his people in Jaluit, that there were five people found in Jito-En Jaluit,” said Timmy Langrine, director of the government’s National Disaster Management Organization which coordinates the search.

Little is known about the people on the ship or what causes them to float. In early April, three fishermen from Kwajalein Atoll got lost in rough seas after their 15-foot long boat suffered engine problems and drifted out of the lagoon into the sea. Despite extensive searches, there are no signs of them.

Coincidentally, 14 years ago last week, three Arno fishermen in a small boat were rescued by a search and rescue boat five days after leaving Arno for Majuro Atoll. They are also found near Jaluit Atoll.

An indication of how lucky the five Marshall Islands group from Arno was after drifting to Jaluit Atoll on Thursday was shown by Marshall Islands Captain Korent Joel who led a successful search and rescue in 2006.

“We want to find them before they pass through Jaluit,” Captain Joel said at the time in an interview published in Marshall Islands Journal newspaper.

Once passing Jaluit, he said, the next islands in their drift path would likely be in the Federated States of Micronesia – more than 1,120 kilometers away.

Timmy Langrine said the aim was to fly Arno’s group back to Majuro this weekend to be repatriated to Arno.


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