29 September 2018
The New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) has found two men adrift on a boat in the Pacific, four days after two fishermen were reported missing in Kiribati.
Group Captain Daniel Hunt, the Acting Air Component Commander, said crew from a Royal New Zealand Air Force P-3K2 Orion surveillance aircraft spotted the men on a five-metre fishing boat on their second day of searching for the missing Kiribati fishermen.
They had contacted two vessels in the area and asked them to pick up the two men and the vessels were expected to reach the men’s location early this evening, Group Captain Hunt said.
“After refuelling in Tarawa, the Orion will return to the area to help facilitate the rescue,” he said.
“We have not yet established radio contact with the men but it is likely that they are ones we have been looking for.”
The NZDF yesterday sent an Air Force Orion currently in the Pacific to join the search, after a request from the Fiji Maritime Surveillance Rescue Coordination Centre (FMSRCC), which is responsible for the search area.
The FMSRCC said the two men – aged 32 and 42 – were last seen leaving on a fishing boat from Kuria, a pair of reef islands in Kiribati’s Central Gilbert Islands, about 6am on Tuesday.
NZDF support was requested after a search by local aircraft and a patrol boat since Wednesday had no success.