Five Solomon Islanders who were rescued in Vanuatu have just arrived safely at Henderson on an Australian Airforce aircraft. They were drifting in sea for 24 days.
On touching down at Henderson around 4.30pm they greeted by a small crowd of relative looking from a distance.
Working in close partnership with the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu Governments, Australia has helped to bring home, safely, the five Temotu men who were lost at seafor three weeks.
The Royal Australian Airforce (RAAF) C-27J and its crew flew to Vanuatu today (19 March) to pick up the men, before returning them to Honiara International Airport.
The crew and Temotu five have followed all COVID-19 safety procedures and regulations.
The five men from Nifiloli in Temotu Province were taken to Port Vila after they were found in Maewo, Vanuatu on 24 February.
The group had been lost and adrift at sea in their 7-metre fiberglass boat for 24 nights.
The special repatriation flight was organised between the Australian and SolomonIslands Governments. At the request of the Solomon Islands Government, a RAAFC-130 conducted a search and rescue operation over two days earlier in February in an endeavour to find the missing men.
“We are delighted to have been able to assist with bringing this group home,” said
Australian High Commissioner Dr Lachlan Strahan.
“It is a true miracle that these men were found after being lost at sea for three weeks.
I cannot imagine the ordeal they have faced. I admire their incredible courage.
“I want to thank those who found and assisted the group in Vanuatu, and the Vanuatu government for its cooperation in this matter.
“Our work together with Solomon Islands and Vanuatu to make this flight happen is
testament to our strong partnership across the region. We work quickly, effectively,
and hand-in-hand, when we respond to shared challenges, whether they be large scale
humanitarian causes, maritime security or search and rescue efforts,” Dr Strahan said.
“I wish the group all the best during their quarantine period in Honiara, I am sure they
are very much looking forward to re-uniting with their loved ones very soon.”Australia
SBMONLINE & AUSTRALIA HIGH COMMISSION PRESS RELEASE