updated 6/1/2005 7:19:42 PM ET 2005-06-01T23:19:42

Eighty-eight South Americans lost at sea while trying to reach the United States were rescued after tying a message in a bottle to a passing boat’s fishing line, and authorities were returning them to Ecuador, Costa Rican officials said Wednesday.

The migrants were adrift for three days after being abandoned by smugglers because their vessel was taking on water.

The migrants from Ecuador and Peru were out of food and water when they saw the long lines of a passing fishing boat and decided to write a message for help. They put the message in a bottle and tied the bottle to one of the lines.

“It was the women in the group that had the idea,” Interior Ministry spokesman Nicolas Aguilar said Tuesday.

After drawing in the fishing lines, crew members of the ship Rey de Reyes found the message saying, “Help, please, help us.”

The ship’s captain notified authorities on the Isla de Coco national park, and they then asked the environmental group MarViva to send a boat to investigate. The group towed the migrants to the island Sunday.

On Wednesday, Costa Rican Security Minister Rogelio Ramos said an Ecuadorean ship would remove the 43 Peruvians and 45 Ecuadoreans from the Pacific Isla de Coco, where they were taken Sunday after their rescue.

According to Environment Ministry officials, the migrants said they had paid traffickers up to $3,000 for the trip from the Ecuadorean port of Montanita, and they promised to pay another $7,000 each to complete the journey to the United States.

© 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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