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Extensive search for vessels battered by cyclones

Extensive search for vessels battered by cyclones

The Rescue Coordination Centre New Zealand is coordinating an extensive search for at least three fishing vessels that are believed to be in difficulty due to atrocious weather conditions about 150kms north of Western Samoa.

RCCNZ Mission Cooindinator, Dave Wilson, says an Airforce Orion is departing Auckland at 8am to search the area to determine how many boats are unaccounted for or in distress.

“The Orion’s expected to reach the area at midday, at which time the atrocious weather bought on by cyclones Nancy and Olaf should have eased.

“At this stage we know there’s definitely six crew from one vessel in distress and we’re concerned for the safety of six crew on each of another two vessels in the area,” he said.

“Several beacons have been activated in the area. Some of these could be associated with the vessels we know to be in distress, or they could be from other vessels. The only way to find out for sure is to have the Orion fly overhead.

“Once the Orion determines what’s happening, we’ll send vessels to assist. There are five boats in Apia and Pago Pago ports which can help, and a further four at sea which we’re in touch with,” he said.

RCCNZ can confirm that a fishing vessel with six crew on board abandoned to their life raft with food and water last night. The crew were wearing lifejackets.

At this time, wind speed was up to 190kms per hour, and there was a sea swell of 15 metres.

No contact has been made with a further two vessels that were in the area and were due to report their position at a scheduled time.

The Orion has had to wait until this morning until departing for the area because of the extreme weather conditions in the area.

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