7 Nov 2011

Aerial search underway for missing Marshall Islands fishermen

10:37 am on 7 November 2011

An aerial search has begun for seven Marshall Islands fishermen who have been missing since Friday.

The national police patrol boat, two fisheries department vessels, a private boat and a visiting yacht yesterday searched the area to the west of Maloelap Atoll.

The government-run national air carrier's one plane broke down over the weekend, and a US Coast Guard plane developed engine problems on its flight to Majuro on Saturday, forcing it to return to Honolulu.

Our correspondent in Majuro, Giff Johnson, says the missing men were last seen motoring past on the ocean side of a couple of islands on Friday morning.

"Four boats and a yacht spent most of the day Sunday searching on a grid pattern that was set up based on a Coast Guard-generated drift pattern and they came up empty-handed."

Giff Johnson, says the men are tropical fish scuba divers very familiar with the area in which they were last seen.