18 May 2016
Two Kiribati fishermen missing for five days in a 4.5m open boat have been found just six minutes into the search of more than 43,000 square kilometers of ocean.
The Rescue Coordination Centre New Zealand (RCCNZ) determined the most likely search area for the men who failed to return from a fishing trip on Friday, and a RNZAF P3 Orion left Whenuapai at 5am this morning to search the area.
RCCNZ Search and Rescue Mission Coordinator Mike Roberts described the result as “outstanding”, with the men’s boat found in an area of open ocean about 480km south east of Nauru.
“The aircraft arrived on scene at approximately 1.30pm (NZ time) and spotted the missing men waving from their boat within about six minutes,” he said.
“The search area was obviously correct and the aircraft has made its approach from precisely the right direction. While there is an element of luck involved, the Orion crew have done a fantastic job. I can’t recall another search being successful so quickly.”
Both men appeared to be in good health, and a survival pack containing food, water and a radio was dropped by the Orion.
An available vessel will now be identified and directed to the men, with the Kiribati search and rescue vessel, six hours away, likely to be involved in returning them to safety.
The Orion will stay overnight in Kiribati before returning to New Zealand tomorrow.