NZDF plane finds missing 7 people on two boats drifting in Pacific near Kiribati


WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Associated Press) Seven people on two small boats that drifted for days in the Pacific have been rescued after a New Zealand Air Force Orion plane spotted them near the remote island nation of Kiribati.

In this image supplied by the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF), a crew member of a RNZAF Orion gestures before dropping a survival pack to a boat near Makin Island in Kiribati, Monday, May 23, 2022.(RNZAF via AP)

New Zealand’s military said Tuesday that the crew aboard an Orion plane had coincidentally spotted the two boats within 10 nautical miles (18.5 kilometers) of each other Monday after the boats went missing in separate incidents from the island nation late last week.

The military said one of the boats had drifted 150 nautical miles (280 kilometers) from its intended course while the other one was closer to where it had gone missing near Makin Island.

The military crew was able to drop survival kits with water and locator beacons to those aboard, and then contacted nearby boats to rescue the survivors. Among those rescued was an 11-year-old.

Air Commodore Shaun Sexton said it was a great result to be able to find the survivors on both boats.

In a social media post sent before the survivors were found, the Kiribati government had said it had requested New Zealand send a search and rescue team and was grateful for their ongoing help during such incidents.

Located some 3,000 kilometers (1,900 miles) south of Hawaii, Kiribati is home to about 114,000 people and doesn’t have its own military.

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