15 Jun 2012

Orion joins search for missing yachties off Tonga

9:17 pm on 15 June 2012

New Zealand's Rescue Coordination Centre says a sea search will continue on Saturday for two men missing after their 17-metre yacht was wrecked off Tonga.

The Navillus went down off the island of Late, west of the island of Vava'u, on Thursday night.

The Rescue Coordination Centre says the Australian and Englishman, both in their 60s, used a satellite phone to tell a relative in Victoria their yacht had run aground and was breaking up.

The centre says an Air Force Orion and fishing boats searched the drift area on Friday without success, but debris and a dinghy from the yacht were recovered.

It says survival time in the water is estimated at 36 hours and this would be extended if lifejackets were worn.