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Prayer vigil for Kiribati passengers missing at sea

30 January 2018

Posted in: Pacific Radio News,

By Ruci Farrell - ruci.farrell@pmn.co.nz

The Kiribati community in Hamilton plans to hold a prayer vigil this weekend to remember passengers still missing at sea, after 11 days at sea. 

Kiribati passengers found at sea. Photo/ NZDF.

Up to 50 passengers mostly women and students were on the 17-metre ferry MV Butaraoi, when it ran into trouble last week.

The NZ Defence Force rescued seven passengers over the weekend and continue to scour the passage between Nonouti and Betio for more survivors.

It's believed some of those missing are students returning to school on the mainland.

Kiribati community spokesman Tibwere Tauman says locals are waiting to see if they have family among the missing.

"We're still waiting for the confirmation of the names. There are more than 40 names now shared on Facebook and hopefully by the end of this week we'll have a confirmation of all the information for that tragedy."

Tibwere Tauman. Photo/ Tagata Pasifika.

Kiribati President Taneti Mamau says there may have been up to 100 passengers on the 17-metre ferry.

NZ Defence spokesman Air Commodore Darryn Webb says the seven passengers they rescued over the weekend were transferred to a fishing vessel while they continued their search.

"We did manage to communicate with a nearby fishing vessel... We co-ordinated their recovery from the dinghy in to the fishing vessel," he says.

"Relatively young people, three women, four men and the youngest is a 14-year-old girl. They weren't in great shape. It's hard to determine exactly how long they'd been drifting for but I guess anything up to a week, they'd been floating in their dinghy."

Kiribati survivors on a fishing vessel. Photo/ Radio Kiribati.

Tags: Kiribati,