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RCCNZ coordinates search off Tongan coast

DATE: 3 SEPTEMBER 2008 TIME : 11.30AM
RCCNZ coordinates search off Tongan coast

A Royal New Zealand Defence Force Orion was this morning sent to Tonga to assist in the search for two men who have been missing at sea since Friday 29 August.

The Rescue Coordination Centre of New Zealand (RCCNZ) is coordinating the search, after being asked for assistance yesterday (2 September).

The two men took a diving group, in two 25 foot (7.62m) open-topped fibreglass boats, to the Duff Reef area off Tonga’s main island of Tongatapu about 9am on Friday.

The last time any of the divers saw the men was about 11am. When the divers resurfaced about 12pm, both the boats and the men had gone.

RCCNZ was alerted yesterday and the Orion flew out this morning, arriving at the search area at 9.30am (New Zealand time). The Orion will cover a search area of approximately 4000 square nautical miles (about 13,700 square kilometres).

The search area is expected to take about 7.5 hours to cover.

Visibility in the area is good, with North East winds of18 knots, and a moderate sea (waves between 1.25 and 2.5 metres).

ends

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