New Zealand Defence Force locates two boats initially reported as missing near Kiribati

Photo: New Zealand Defence Force

Crew on a Royal New Zealand Air Force P-3K2 Orion have found two missing boats within 10 nautical miles of each other, dropping survival kits with water and locator beacons to those on board.

Both vessels had been reported missing from Kiribati.

On Sunday, May 22, the Rescue Coordination Centre NZ (RCCNZ), on behalf of Rescue Coordination Centre Fiji and Kiribati search and rescue authorities, requested assistance to search for a five-metre, yellow-hulled wooden boat that was reported overdue from a trip from Makin Island to Butaritari Island, Kiribati.

The boat, with two men, a woman and an 11-year-old child on board, left Makin Island on Friday, May 20.

Meanwhile, the US Coast Guard was preparing to search for another vessel, Woodhaven III, which had been reported missing from Kiribati late last week with three people on board.

The Orion and its crew left RNZAF Base Auckland in the early morning (local time) of Monday, May 23, to start searching in the vicinity of Makin Island. The crew first found Woodhaven III, which was located approximately 150 nautical miles from where this boat was thought to have gone missing.

Shortly thereafter, the crew found the yellow-hulled vessel from Makin Island and reported that the survivors on both vessels appeared to be in good health.

Survival packs containing water and locator beacons were dropped to both boats, and nearby vessels were contacted to rescue the survivors.

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