NZDF joins search for missing Kiribati ferry with 50 passengers on board

The New Zealand Defence Force is joining the search for a missing ferry in Kiribati, which has more than 50 people on board.

The interisland ferry, named Butiraoi, was reported missing in the Pacific Ocean almost a week ago, when it never arrived at Beito.

A New Zealand Airforce P3 Orion left early this morning to assist with the search.

"We are always ready to play our part at home and in the region to help those in need," Air Commodore Darryn Webb says.

Local authorities say the vessel ran aground and underwent repairs to its propeller shaft before it left Nonouti Island on January 20.

The boat is equipped with a high frequency radio, but it is not known whether there is enough fuel or water on board.

The Rescue Coordination Centre of New Zealand has also joined the search, contacting all of the islands along the route for sightings.

The weather in that part of the Pacific is currently moderate with some swells.


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