POSTED: 10:00 a.m. HST, Jan 23, 2011
MANILA, Philippines — Philippine coast guard rescuers found five missing Americans on Sunday aboard their sailboat reported lost en route from Guam. All those aboard are fine.
A search ship guided by a spotter plane located and boarded the 38-foot (11-meter) catamaran The Pineapple after it was spotted off the southern island of Dinagat, coast guard chief Adm. Wilfredo Tamayo said. The rescuers are escorting the vessel to its original destination on central Cebu island.
"They're all in fine health," Tamayo said of four men and a woman on board The Pineapple who included a Filipino-American in the U.S. Air Force. Their identities and hometowns have not been released.
"They apparently had engine trouble while in rough seas," Tamayo told The Associated Press, adding that he was awaiting other details.
Relatives of the Americans contacted the U.S. Coast Guard saying that the catamaran left Guam on Jan. 6 but had not reached its destination on Cebu Island, Tamayo said.
Guam, a U.S. territory, is about 1,400 miles (2,290 kilometers) east of Cebu, where heavy rains and rough seas have been reported in recent weeks.
Lt. j.g. Justin Valentino, a search and rescue coordinator for the U.S. Coast Guard in Guam, said that while the weather makes predictions difficult, the journey was supposed to take seven to 10 days.
Tamayo said on Friday that the U.S. Coast Guard requested a search although it was not clear whether The Pineapple had reached Philippine waters. The U.S. Coast Guard was sending an HC-130 Hercules to join the operation.
The Philippines dispatched two aircraft to scour the waters off central and southern islands, and coast guard detachments and passing ships were alerted to be on the lookout for the sailboat, Tamayo said.
A Philippine coast guard plane spotted the catamaran on Saturday but could not identify the vessel due to poor visibility. The plane returned to the area after the weather cleared on Sunday and confirmed it was the missing sailboat, Tamayo said.