Aircraft from Australia and the U.S. are joining the search for survivors from a missing Kiribati ferry that sank with 50 people aboard in the remote Pacific, a navigation safety authority said in a statement Monday.
Maritime New Zealand said an Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) challenger search and rescue jet joins the effort Monday and a U.S. Coast Guard C-130 Hercules is due to arrive Tuesday.
Six adults – three men, three women and a 14-year-old girl – were found Sunday after floating for more than a week in a small wooden boat in the Pacific Ocean. They had been aboard the MV Butiraoi, which set off from Nonouti Island in the remote nation of Kiribati on January 18 on a two-day trip to South Tarawa, Kiribati’s capital.
The New Zealand Air Force found the dinghy and was able to drop supplies, including water and food, to the survivors. They were then picked up by a nearby fishing vessel.
"The group seem very relieved to have been found," John Ashby from the New Zealand Rescue Coordination Center said.
The air force says there has been no sign so far of the remaining 43 passengers.
Kiribati is a remote nation of 33 atolls in the Central Pacific that is home of just over 110,000 people.