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NZDF Finds Missing Kiribati Fishermen Adrift in Pacific

The New Zealand Defence Force has found the two Kiribati fishermen who have been missing for a week safe and well in their boat in the Pacific Ocean.
The New Zealand Defence Force has found the two Kiribati fishermen who have been missing for a week safe and well in their boat in the Pacific Ocean.

21 March 2018

The New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) has found the two Kiribati fishermen who have been missing for a week safe and well in their boat in the Pacific Ocean.

Air Commodore Andrew Clark, the Air Component Commander, said the crew of a Royal New Zealand Air Force P-3K2 Orion aircraft spotted the two men waving from their small aluminium boat about 9.30 last night, on the third day of their search.

“We located a dinghy using the Orion’s radar late last night and verified that there were two men on board using the aircraft’s infrared camera,” Air Commodore Clark said.

“The success of this latest search and rescue mission shows how our long-range aircraft, with their mix of sensors and skilled crew members, help the region in what are often life-threatening situations.”

The Orion then contacted a Kiribati patrol boat, which was also part of the search, and that was expected to reach the men by mid-morning today, he said.

“The men are safe and well and their vessel is in good condition. The crew dropped them emergency supplies and a radio and were able to establish communications with them.

“We are pleased that we have been able to help locate the men and I would like to commend everyone involved in this search and rescue mission for a job well done.”

The men left Taboiaki village in Kiribati’s Nonouti atoll about 3am on 14 March to fish off the south end of the atoll. Nonouti is about 4000 kilometres north of Auckland.

The Fiji Maritime Surveillance Rescue Coordination Centre requested NZDF support on Saturday, after an air and sea search directed by Kiribati authorities failed to find the men.

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