Seven survivors from an inter-island ferry, MV Butiraoi, which was reported missing in Kiribati ten days ago, have been found by the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF).
The ferry was carrying 50 people on board when it left Nonouti Island on January 18, for a two-day, 250-kilometre trip to Betio, the largest township of Kiribati’s capital city, South Tarawa.
The 17-metre wooden catamaran failed to arrive on January 20, sparking the search.
Air Commodore Darryn Webb, the Air Component Commander, said on Sunday, January 27 that a Royal New Zealand Air Force P-3K2 Orion aircraft deployed to help a multinational search for the missing ferry has found a five-metre dinghy adrift in the Pacific Ocean with seven people on board.
As informed, a fishing vessel which was about 92 kilometres northeast of the dinghy’s location was dispatched to pick up the survivors.
“The Orion will continue to search the area, making every effort to locate any more survivors, while awaiting the rendezvous with the fishing vessel,” Air Commodore Webb said.
The Rescue Coordination Centre New Zealand has been coordinating the search since Saturday.
Local authorities said the boat ran aground and underwent repairs to its propeller shaft before it left Nonouti Island. It has a high-frequency radio but it is not known whether it has enough fuel and emergency supplies on board.