11 May 2011

US joins search in Kiribati for group missing at sea

1:43 pm on 11 May 2011

The United States Coastguard is today expected to join the search for six people missing off northern Tarawa in Kiribati.

The group of six people, which includes four children, has been missing since Friday after they'd set out in a three-metre canoe towing a smaller dinghy, to collect palm leaves for roofing.

An empty canoe was sighted at the weekend but search officials say the dinghy could hold the group.

The Kiribati search and rescue co-ordinator, Captain Omirete Tadureka, says a New Zealand Air Force Orion that's been searching each day since Sunday is likely end its involvement today.

It is searching a different area today, to the south of Tarawa.

He says the US Coastguard has made a plane available for up to four days.