Sailor comes to rescue of starving Kanton islanders

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The Independent Online

A British sailor came to the rescue of a group of "desperate and starving" islanders after chancing upon them on his way to Australia, the coastguard said today.

Alex Bond, from Penryn, Cornwall, docked the yacht Mary Powell at Kanton Island - an atoll between Hawaii and Fiji - where he was met by extraordinary scenes.

Mr Bond, who was delivering the 10-metre yacht from Hawaii, found the island's 14 adults and 10 children had been given no supplies for several months. The ship due to bring them was stuck nearby.

He contacted Falmouth Coastguard for help, who in turn called their American counterparts and the Honolulu authorities to arrange a drop-off.

In the meantime he gave the islanders - who had been surviving on coconuts and fish - anything he could spare.

A Falmouth coastguard spokesman said today: "When the British sailor arrived, he was was met by the desperate and starving islanders who had not been delivered any supplies for months.

"The supply ship which should have brought them provisions was stuck at a nearby island. They had been living off just coconuts and any fish that they could catch for months."

The coastguard said there was no way of knowing who would have found the starving population, had not Mr Bond stopped off there.

Richard Williams, Falmouth's Watch Assistant said: "The British sailor has given the islanders all the supplies that he can spare from his 33 foot yacht. We are now working with the Americans to drop supplies or land on the island. As the island was used by the Americans and the British during the war it does have a run way.

"We dont normally get requests like these from British sailors, but hopefully we will be able to help the islanders to get the supplies that they need. So far, we have been given a shopping list of provisions such as cooking fat, rice, sugar and flour which we have passed on to the Americans."

As well as being a delivery skipper, Mr Bond is reported to have worked for the disaster relief charity, ShelterBox, based in Cornwall.