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Search for eight fishermen missing off Samoa

Search for eight fishermen missing off Samoa

A search is underway for eight men onboard three fishing boats missing off Samoa following the cyclone that struck the country at the end of last week.

A RNZAF P3 Orion has been tasked by the Rescue Coordination Centre New Zealand (RCCNZ) to conduct searches off the coast of Samoa, and arrived on site at around 7am this morning (Sunday, 16 December).
 
The P3 Orion has spotted a vessel answering the description of one the missing vessel washed up on Apolima Island, but it is unconfirmed if it is one of the missing vessels.  No sign was seen of the crew.
 
A tug is travelling from Apia, about two hours away, to investigate. Sea conditions remain rough and unsuitable for smaller vessels.

Tahiti search and rescue authorities are also providing a French Navy Gardian aircraft, which will be in the area by 5pm (NZ time).
 
RCCNZ Search and Rescue Mission Coordinator Tracy Brickles said the 30-year-old skipper of one of the boats had managed to reach the island of Monono, between the main islands of Savai’I and Upolu.
 
The man has yet to be formally interviewed by Samoan Police but is believed to have clung to flotsam after the boat tipped over some time on Friday.  No further information is available about his crew.
 
The boats – all 9m, twin-hulled, aluminium vessels fitted with outboard motors -  were due to return from fishing trips on Friday.  The RCCNZ was contacted yesterday afternoon.
 
“The P3 Orion has searched for five hours and will shortly land in Apia to refuel and allow the crew to rest overnight before continuing the search tomorrow,” Ms Brickles said.
 
“The focus of searching today is on coastal areas and the sea and small islands between the two main islands, as this is the area indicated by drift modeling as likely to be where the prevailing conditions would have taken the boats.”
 
ENDS

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