Fisherman waving his paddles from life-raft

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

A man has been found in the middle of the Pacific Ocean waving his paddles from a life-raft, in a search coordinated by the Rescue Coordination Centre of New Zealand.

RCCNZ Mission Coordinator Conrad Reynecke says a New Zealand Airforce P3 Orion has found the man – believed to be a missing fisherman – at around 2pm (New Zealand time) today in the middle of a 4000 square kilometre search area. The man phoned a contact in Tonga on Saturday evening at 6pm Tonga local time to say the engine had broken down on his small five metre fibreglass boat, as he was returning to Ohonua Harbour, Eua Island. 

The call sparked a search by Tongan Police, who requested assistance from RCCNZ. An Orion search aircraft departed yesterday and searched for about an hour before overnighting in Tonga, and resuming again at 9.30am local time today.

Mr Reynecke says Tongan Police will send a Police or Navy boat to the location where the man has been found, about 13  kilometres south-east of Eua Island, Tonga.  The Orion will circle overhead for another couple of hours until the rendezvous is complete.

Maritime New Zealand Media Line: +64 4 499 7318

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Last Updated ( Tuesday, 25 April 2017 )