Seven walrus hunters who disappeared in the Bering Sea three weeks ago reached their home island safely just as their Eskimo friends and relatives said they would - even after U.S. and Soviet searchers had given up.
Three of the hunters were flown to Anchorage hospitals Friday for treatment but were reported in good condition."Every one of them is safe," said Jonathon Annogiyuk, a relative on St. Lawrence Island who picked up a faint citizens band radio message from the hunters about 6 p.m. Thursday and spread the word to joyous St. Lawrence Island villagers in Gambell and Savoonga who never gave up hope even when most searchers gave up looking.
The hunters, age 13 to 39, left Gambell in two skiffs June 2 for a one-day walrus hunt, and disappeared into the vast ice-clogged Bering Sea, triggering an intensive U.S. and Soviet search.
The seven somehow managed to reach the far southern end of St. Lawrence Island, on a spit near Invut Mountain, where an Alaska National Guard helicopter picked them up late Thursday night.