An RNZAF P3 Orion is returning to New Zealand after finding no sign of three fishermen missing for four days south of the island of Tarawa, Kiribati.
The Rescue Coordination Centre New Zealand (RCCNZ) directed the Orion to the area yesterday, after a request from Kiribati search and rescue authorities.
A search area of 21,000 square kilometres, based on modelling of currents and weather conditions, was covered yesterday. The aircraft stayed on Tarawa overnight and an extended search area, totalling around 42,000 square kilometres, was covered today.
RCCNZ Search and Rescue Coordinator Dave Wilson said the Orion had thoroughly investigated the search area.
“Search conditions on Sunday were described as ideal, and while rain showers today reduced visibility the Orion crew are confident that if the men were in the search area they would have been found,” he said.
The men, aged 33, 41, and 30, did not return from a day’s fishing last Wednesday (21 November).
A decision on the next stage of the search will be made by search and rescue authorities in Kiribati and the rescue coordination centre in Fiji.