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RNZAF crew find missing Kirabati sailors

Aircrew on a Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) P-3K2 Orion have located two people who had been reported overdue from a trip to Maiana Island in Kiribati.

The two people had last been seen on board a 5.8m fibreglass boat departing Tarawa, Kiribati, on the afternoon of 30 September. They had planned to go to Maiana Island, an atoll about 2-3 hours away from Tarawa.

“The Rescue Coordination Centre Fiji sought assistance from New Zealand through the Rescue Coordination Centre NZ, who requested an Orion assist with the search,” the Defence Force said in a statement this afternoon.

Aircrew on the Orion departed RNZAF Base Auckland on Tuesday to search for the pair, covering a search area of approximately 7300 square nautical miles on the first day of searching.

The aircrew overnighted in Nauru before resuming the search today and were successful in locating the boat with two people in the morning, 230 nautical miles from Nauru. 

“Nearby fishing vessel FV QUEEN ELIZABETH 959 was asked to rendezvous with the boat while the P-3K2 remained overhead until the fishing vessel was on station,” they said.

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