27 May 2012

All 49 people from missing Solomon Islands freighter found alive and well

4:28 pm on 27 May 2012

All 49 people who were on board an inter island freighter which went missing last week in southeastern Solomon Islands have been rescued and appear to be well.

The ship, Solfish 001, was due in Lata in Temotu Province on Wednesday but never arrived.

Four aircraft, including an Australian Air Force Orion, and several ships, began searching for the ship on Saturday.

Wreckage believed to be from the freighter was spotted at midday about 60 nautical miles from Santa Cruz, with five liferafts found later in the afternoon to the north.

The acting director of the Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre, Brian Aonima, says a freighter, Micronesia Pride, has since taken the passengers and crew to KiraKira on Makira Island.

Mr Aonima says international co-operation was behind the successful search.

"I would thank the Australian Government for assisting us and also the French Navy, the Solomon Islands RAMSI and the RSIP [Royal Solomon Islands Police] officers. I thank them so much for their support and assisting us where we managed to get very good co-ordination."