29 Jan 2018

Search for missing Kiribati ferry locates 7 survivors

7:37 am on 29 January 2018

Seven people from a missing Kiribati ferry have been rescued this evening and are onboard a fishing boat.

The ferry, the MV Butiraoi, left Nonouti Island with about 50 passengers on 18 January for what was supposed to have been a routine two-day trip to the capital, South Tarawa.

The Royal New Zealand Air Force located the five-metre dinghy which had been drifting for some days about 300 kilometres south-east of Nauru this morning.

Supplies including water, food and a radio were dropped and a fishing vessel was diverted to pick up the people on the dinghy.

A fishing boat was diverted to rescue the survivors and will be on stand-by to help if needed as the search continues at first light tomorrow.

The Rescue Coordination Centre said it hoped to find out more information from the survivors overnight.

The operations manager at the Rescue Co-ordination Centre, Paul Craven, said the people on the dinghy were relieved to be found.

He said the air force was expanding its search for the missing ferry out from where the dinghy was located.