31 Jan 2018

Missing Kiribati boat: Children likely to be on board

From Morning Report, 7:35 am on 31 January 2018

The MP for the Kiribati island where a missing ferry departed from says many of the victims are likely to be high school children heading to Tarawa for the term. The Butiraoi, which may have been carrying as many as 100 people, vanished after leaving Nonouti, an island of 2,000 people, on January 18. Seven survivors were found drifting in a dinghy on Sunday, and an international search for others continues, but chances grow slimmer by the day. The Nonouti MP, former Prime Minister Sir Ieremia Tabai, says his constituents are both devastated and angry. He told Jamie Tahana it appears the disaster was completely avoidable, and President Taneti Maamau's response has been far from adequate. Four aircraft from New Zealand, Australia and the US are now involved in the search for survivors, and two commercial vessels from Kiribati are also combing the area where the dinghy was found. New Zealand's Rescue Coordination Centre spokesman Paul Craven says the search is getting more difficult by the day.