Aerial search for Butiraoi survivors suspended

MV Butiraoi is seen moored beside a sunken vessel in this undated photo

MV Butiraoi is seen moored beside a sunken vessel in this undated photo

Maritime NZ news release, 2 February 2018

Kiribati ferry: Aerial search suspended

The Kiribati government has suspended aerial searches for survivors of the ferry MV Butiraoi.

Rescue Coordination Centre New Zealand (RCCNZ) Acting Manager Kevin Banaghan said the four search aircraft from New Zealand, Australia and the United States will return to their countries.

Kiribati vessels plan to continue searching.

The ferry left Nonouti Atoll on January 18 carrying 88 passengers and crew. It sank that day.

On January 25 Kiribati authorities were advised the ferry was missing, and they then contacted Rescue Coordination Centre Nadi in Fiji. Kiribati is in Fiji’s search and rescue region.

RCC Nadi was the lead agency for the search and requested support from RCCNZ in providing specialist, long-distance, search aircraft. The aircraft were provided by the RNZAF, Australian Maritime Safety Authority, RAAF, and the United States Coast Guard.

An RNZAF P3 Orion found seven survivors in a dingy on Sunday, January 28.