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21 Feb 2018 14:04
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  •   Home > News > Politics

    Kiribati ferry missing a week, 50 on board

    A New Zealand Orion looking for a Kiribati ferry carrying 50 passengers missing in the Pacific for almost a week has found nothing.

    A New Zealand Air Force Orion that joined the search for a Kiribati ferry carrying 50 passengers missing in the Pacific for almost a week hasn't found anything yet.

    The Orion carried out a radar search of 145,000sq km on Saturday before standing down, the Rescue Coordination Centre of New Zealand (RCCNZ) says.

    It will resume at daylight on Sunday.

    Local authorities were alerted to the missing vessel after it failed to arrive in Betio on January 20, having left Nonouti Island two days prior.

    RCCNZ spokesman John Ashby says the total potential search area is about the size of New Zealand.

    "The Orion crew has covered around a quarter of the western area of the search zone," he said.

    "Meanwhile Kiribati authorities have arranged for a local vessel, the MV Tekokona, to conduct surface searching and an Air Kiribati aircraft is expected to join the search on Sunday local time."

    The ferry has been overdue for a week and the RCCNZ received a request for aerial assistance on Friday. Rescue services have had no communication from the crew.

    "We are relying on our drift predictions to narrow down the search area as much as possible to increase the chances of finding their location as soon as we can," says Mr Ashby.

    Kiribati authorities say the ferry underwent repairs to its propeller shaft before leaving Nonouti.

    It is not known how much fuel or water is on board but the boat is equipped with a high-frequency radio.

    Seas were moderate to rough and the weather partly cloudy with some rain on Saturday.

    © 2018 NZN, NZCity

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