Maritime NZ news release, 28 January 2018, 1:45pm
Fishing vessel on way to dinghy
The Rescue Coordination Centre of New Zealand says a fishing vessel has been diverted to pick up seven people found adrift in a dinghy this morning during the search for the missing Kiribati ferry.
“The group seem very relieved to have been found when the NZ Airforce Orion dropped supplies, including water and a radio, to them about 10am today,” says Senior Search and Rescue Officer John Ashby.
The FV Lomalo is due to reach their location in a couple of hours around mid afternoon today.
Mr Ashby says the dinghy, understood to be one of two carried on the missing ferry MV Butiraoi, was located in a high probability search area, as determined by RCCNZ’s drift modelling. The Airforce Orion is continuing the search for other survivors in this area, with about three hours of flight time remaining today.
The 17 metre inter-island ferry, with an estimated 50 people on board, was due in to Betio, Tarawa, more than a week ago. RCCNZ received a request for an aerial search last Thursday, with the dinghy found during the second day of the Orion being on scene. Air Kiribati and local vessels have also been involved in the search, coordinated by the Fiji SAR authority.