28 Jun 2016

Ferry goes missing in Tonga with 11 people aboard

3:54 pm on 28 June 2016

A search is under way for 11 people missing at sea in Tonga.

Nuku'alofa harbour, Tonga.

Nuku'alofa Harbour, Tonga Photo: AFP

Six adults and five children were reported missing this morning after their boat failed to reach Fonoifua Island in Ha'apai last night.

The deputy Comissioner of Police Pelenatita Vaisuai says the boat left from Nuku'alofa on the 90kilometre journey around two yesterday afternoon.

"This is a 41foot boat, open hull boat, run on a 75 horse power board motor. So the supsicion is it could be the motor must've died. They must be drifting.

Pelenatita Vaisuai says a New Zealand Defence Force Orion aircraft would be assisting in the search.

Small private boats have been providing inter island connections in Tonga since the beginning of the month because the domestic ferry, MV 'Otuanga'ofa, has been out of service with a broken rudder.