9 May 2011

Orion searches for six missing off Kiribati for second day

12:49 pm on 9 May 2011

A Royal New Zealand Air Force Orion resumed its search on Monday for a group of teenagers and children missing off the coast of Kiribati.

Two 19-year-old men and four girls aged eight, nine, twelve and 14 were on board a three-metre outrigger canoe, on an expedition to collect palm leaves for roofing.

The canoe and a smaller dinghy it was towing are believed to have drifted out of a lagoon and into the open ocean.

The Orion is searching with assistance from a local vessel.

Rescue Coordination Centre spokesman Ross Henderson said there had been a reported sighting of an unoccupied canoe a day or two ago.

The search was to continue for as long conditions allowed on Monday.

The RNZAF P3 Orion searched an area of approximately 600 square nautical miles on Sunday.