An air force Orion on the way to search for three lost fishermen off Kiribati has found a damaged British yacht that went missing in a storm.
The Orion took off from Whenuapai this morning and en route made radio contact with the 13m cataraman Troutbridge, with one male sailor aboard, the Rescue Coordination Centre New Zealand said.
Fears were held for him after he lost contact with an accompanying yacht in a storm on Thursday night. They were sailing from Fiji to New Caledonia.
The sailor told the Orion crew that although the catamaran had suffered hull and rig damage and was leaking, pumps on board were working and he was sailing on to New Caledonia, which could take up to a week.
Search coordinator Mike Roberts said it was a great outcome to establish contact with the skipper of the Troutbridge.
"A lot of credit should go to the crew of the Orion. Now we're also hoping for a positive result in the search for the fishermen off Kiribati. We've determined a search area of approximately 21,000 square kilometres which will be the focus of the aircraft's search efforts this afternoon."
The fishermen are aboard a 6m boat and were reported three days overdue south of Tarawa Island, Kiribati.
source: newshub archive