18 Feb 2005

Vessel with six on-board found off American Samoa

8:12 pm on 18 February 2005

A fishing boat which has been out of contact for two days after Cyclone Olaf passed over Samoa has been found - with all crew reported to be safe and well.

The Rescue Coordination Centre says the vessel - The Samoan Boy - was spotted by a United States Coastguard Hercules 170 kilometres north-east of American Samoa late this afternoon.

It brings the total number of people rescued from the sea following the cyclone to 23.

The centre's spokesperson Heidi Brook says the crew were hugely relieved to be found.

"They were in a pretty bad state. Waves had pounded the wheelhouse, windows were broken and they had been in the water for a couple of days and the crew had also been unable to contact anyone. We are now contacting the nearest vessel in the area who will now assist and tow the vessel with the crew on board to safety."

Heidi Brook says an airforce Orion is continuing to look for two other people, missing after their fishing boat sank off northern Samoa.

Their four fellow crewmembers were rescued from a liferaft last night.