Stricken islanders found in Kiribati

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A yachtsman on his way to Australia has sparked international efforts to get food to people on a remote island in Kiribati.

Briton Alex Bond, who was delivering a yacht from Hawaii to Australia, anchored at Kanton Island, part of the Phoenix group in northern Kiribati, two days ago.

There, he found local people suffering food shortages.

The Kiribati government ship which usually delivers food has been delayed and is two months overdue.

Coconuts

Mr Bond discovered the locals living on only coconuts and fish when he arrived in May 9.

He was particularly concerned the 10 children among the group of 24 might be suffering malnutrition.

He immediately contacted the outside world – the coastguard station back in the British coastal town of Falmouth.

From there, watch officer Henry Purbrick told Radio Australia’s Pacific Beat, they got a message to US authorities in Honolulu, who passed it on to closer agencies including those on Christmas Island.

The islanders were apparently also low on water.

Desperate

Alex Bond says while the group was not starving, they were getting pretty desperate.

He said islanders only buy food for three months and the group had run out of basics.

“And there’s very little breadfruit – there’s only two breadfruit trees on the island,� the delivery skipper said.

“You know, they are very limited about what they can eat – I mean basically coconuts and fish.”

The nearest neighbouring island is 1,900 kilometres away.