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Dublin: 4 °C Wednesday 19 February, 2020

Seven survivors from missing ferry found drifting in a dinghy on the Pacific Ocean

Six adults and a baby were on board the dinghy.

A fishing boat rescuing a dingy carrying six dehydrated adults and an unconscious baby.
A fishing boat rescuing a dingy carrying six dehydrated adults and an unconscious baby.
Image: AP/PA Images

SEVEN SURVIVORS FROM a ferry which went missing in the remote Pacific with 50 people on board were found drifting in a dinghy today near the island nation of Kiribati, the New Zealand Defence Force said.

A New Zealand Air Force Orion plane involved in the multinational search for the ferry MV Butiraoi dropped urgent supplies to the seven and a nearby fishing vessel has been diverted to rescue them.

The five-metre dinghy is one of two believed to have been on board the Butiraoi, which was last heard from 10 days ago when it set out on an expected two-day voyage.

“The crew has dropped them aid supplies containing water, food and a radio and are currently trying to establish communication with them,” NZDF Air Commodore Darryn Webb said.

“The Orion will continue to search the area, making every effort to locate any more survivors, while awaiting the rendezvous with the fishing vessel.”

The fishing boat was expected to reach the survivors mid-afternoon.​

The Butiraoi was last heard from on 18 January when it left Nonouti on a 250-kilometre (155-mile) trip to Betio, the largest township of Kiribati’s capital city, South Tarawa.

Local authorities said the 17.5-metre wooden catamaran ran aground and underwent repairs to its propeller shaft before it left Nonouti.

New Zealand sent a military aircraft to conduct sweeps of the area after being called in to help late Friday by Fiji authorities who are coordinating the search.

Kiribati, a nation of 33 atolls and reefs with a total population of about 110,000, lies some 3,460 kilometres northeast of Fiji.

© AFP 2018

Read: These Israeli teeth show modern humans left Africa 100,000 years earlier than thought >

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