NZ Air Force finds missing fishermen from Kiribati in the Pacific

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our i-Kiribati fishermen found by RNZAF Orion crew. Photo: NZDF

Four fishermen who had been reported missing from Kiribati have been found in the Pacific Ocean by New Zealand’s Air Force.

Crew on a Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) Orion found the four men 140 nautical miles west of Tarawa this morning (Tuesday, 8 December).

Earlier, Fiji and New Zealand’s Rescue Coordination Centres requested assistance from the New Zealand Defence Force.

The four men were last seen Betio Town on Friday when they left to go fishing near the northern end of the main Kiribati island of Tarawa.

Kiribati Police searched over the weekend but did not find the men or their 12 foot fibreglass boat.

The RNZAF P-3K2 Orion flew yesterday to Nauru, began the search this morning and soon located the men.

The air crew dropped a survival pack including a radio to the fishermen, and a nearby fishing vessel was directed to the area to rescue the four.

The Orion remained overhead until the four fishermen were taken on board that vessel this afternoon.

Rescue Coordination Centre New Zealand (RCCNZ) Search and Rescue Officer Ramon Davis said the rescue was a great example of international cooperation.

“It’s fantastic that we can work with our Pacific and Air Force colleagues on rescues like this. RCCNZ was proud to help coordinate this successful rescue and get these fishermen home safe and sound.”

Last month, air crew of an Orion were also called in for a search and rescue, locating two boats in quick succession after they had been reported missing from Kiribati.

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