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Search for missing vessel northwest of Samoa

Search for missing vessel northwest of Samoa

The Rescue Coordination Centre New Zealand is coordinating a search for a fishing vessel believed to be in difficulty in hurricane-force weather conditions about 700 kilometres northwest of Samoa.

RCCNZ Search and Rescue Mission Coordinator, Neville Blakemore, says an Airforce Orion is departing Auckland at 3am tomorrow morning and is expected to reach the area to begin searching at about just after dawn.

“RCCNZ received a distress beacon alert at 2.40pm this afternoon. We made contact with the vessel’s owners who said they hadn’t had contact with the crew since midnight last night, at which time the vessel was 15kms away from the eye of Hurricane Percy.

“At that time, the weather conditions were atrocious with a wind speed of up to 100kms per hour, and a sea swell of up to 10 metres. Clearly, we’re concerned for the safety of the seven crew on board the American-Samoan vessel.

“By 8am tomorrow the weather should have eased a little, and the Orion will begin searching for the vessel. We’ve also diverted another vessel to assist with the search, but it won’t arrive on scene until late tomorrow afternoon.

“Ironically, 11 days ago the missing fishing boat helped other vessels during the extensive search and rescue effort required when cyclones Olaf and Nancy hit,” he said.

The Orion has to wait until tomorrow morning to begin searching because of the weather conditions in the area.

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