MANILA, Philippines – Searchers from the Philippine coast guard found five missing Americans on board a sailboat that was reported missing en route from Guam. All were in good health, officials said Sunday.
A search ship guided by a spotter plane located 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 were escorting the vessel to its original destination on central Cebu island, he said.
"They apparently had engine trouble while in rough seas," Tamayo told The Associated Press, adding that he was awaiting other details.
The sailboat left Guam on Jan. 6 on a trip that normally would take seven to 10 days, officials said. Relatives of the Americans contacted the U.S. Coast Guard when it had not reached its destination by Jan. 18, they said. The U.S. Coast Guard then asked the Philippines to help in the search.
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.
"They're all in fine health," Tamayo said of the four men and a woman on board the boat, including a Filipino-American in the U.S. Air Force. Their identities and hometowns have not been released by the U.S. Embassy in Manila.
A Philippine coast guard plane spotted the sailboat on Saturday but could not identify the vessel due to poor visibility. The plane returned after the weather cleared Sunday and confirmed it was the missing boat, Tamayo said.
A video taken from a search plane showed four of the Americans on top of the white-hulled catamaran, one apparently waving, as a rubber boat with coast guard personnel approached.
U.S. authorities were informed of the discovery and have been in touch with Philippine officials to provide help to the Americans, U.S. Embassy spokeswoman Rebecca Thompson said.
Many Philippine provinces, particularly in the east, have experienced rough seas amid unusually heavy rains since late December. At least 68 people have died and 26 others remain missing from the stormy weather set off by a cold front.
The coast guard rescued 260 of 277 people aboard nearly a dozen boats that sank, overturned or ran into trouble last week due to the inclement weather. Fifteen remain missing while two drowned, the officials said.