Air Force of New Zealand Joins Search for Missing MV Butiraoi in South Pacific

Photo by Charly W. Karl/Flickr

According to rescue authorities, a ferry with around 50 people on board has been missing for over a week off the coast of the Pacific nation of Kiribati.

The Rescue Coordination Centre of New Zealand said that a P3 Orion aircraft of the New Zealand Air Force had been dispatched to assist Fijian rescue services in their search for the missing vessel.

Fiji is heading the said search, taking place in an area of ocean that is the size of Britain.

Authorities said that the MV Butairaoi ferry left Nonouti Island bound for South Tarawa on the 18th of January. The journey of 149 miles was supposed to take two days.

John Ashby, the Senior search and rescue officer, said that the MV Butiraoi is a 17.5m wooden catamaran. It was first reported missing to the authorities of New Zealand late on Friday.

He said that the vessel had undergone repairs to its propeller shaft just before it left, which may have been a contributor to problems in navigation.

Mr. Ashby added that people on islands and vessels that are along the planned route were being contacted to inquire if they have seen the said vessel.

The rescue service of New Zealand said that the vessel has a dark blue hull and yellow accommodation quarters.

“The weather in that part of the Pacific is currently moderate with some swells,” said Mr. Ashby.

Kiribati is a remote, impoverished nation of 33 atolls and is home to around 108,000 people.