Three people were rescued from a deserted island in the Bahamas on Tuesday after being stranded for 33 days surviving on rats, coconut, and conch shells.
A U.S. Coast Guard detected one woman and two men on Monday in Anguilla Cay, a small unpopulated island in the Bahamas located between Cuba and the U.S, ABC News reported.
The guard was patrolling the area when they spotted a hand-made flag and a large cross on the island.
“We were alerted to them by the flags that they actually had in addition to a large cross that they put out there for themselves,” Mike Allert, the aircraft commander who headed the rescue helicopter, told WPLG.
Complicated, dangerous rescue saves man caught in avalanche near Vancouver
Rescuers deploy drone to search for trapped workers in flooded Himalayan tunnel
The coast guard airdropped food, water and radio to communicate with the trio but was only able to rescue them on Tuesday due to bad weather, Global News reported.
The crew returned the next day and airlifted the survivors to the helicopter within 30 minutes, Allert told ABC News.
All three showed signs of dehydration and fatigue due to lack of fresh water but did not report any injuries, Allert told Yahoo!News. He also said they are in good condition, given the time they had stayed on the island.
It still remains unknown how the castaways appeared on the island, Allert told ABC News.
The castaways had survived by eating coconuts, meat from conch shells and rats, according to the coast guard, but they were in “dire straits” due to the lack of fresh water, Allert said.
“That is pretty extraordinary. It was incredible,” Justin Dougherty, a lieutenant of the U.S. Coast Guard, told WPLG. “I don’t know how they did it. I am amazed that they were in such good shape.”
Officials later announced on Twitter that all three people were successfully rescued and deployed to Lower Keys Medical Centre in Key West, Florida.
They also released a video dropping the radio, food and water to the castaways.
“Thanks to our aircrews diligently conducting routine patrols, we were able to spot people in distress and intervene,” Sean Connett, command duty officer at Coast Guard Seventh District, told Global News.
The U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer 2nd Class Brandon Murray told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel they could not determine immediately whether the rescued trio was migrants who tried to reach the U.S. or another country, or if they were fishermen who got lost at sea.
Murray added he was astonished that the three people survived under such extreme conditions and managed to hold out for 33 days.
“I cannot recall a time that we saved people who were stranded for over a month on an island,” he said. “That is a new one for me.”