NZDF Joins search for missing Tuvaluan fisherman

By Nanise Volau

A Royal New Zealand Air Force P-3K2 Orion aircraft is searching for a Tuvalu man who failed to return home from a fishing trip on Monday evening.

The New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) was notified by the Fiji Maritime Surveillance Rescue Coordination Centre (FMSRCC).

FMSRCC director Lieutenant Sairusi Colati told IB Online that there was miscommunication with the vessel that had notified them which resulted in the late reaction from their end.

“We received the call yesterday morning, but there was no indication that they needed help, or someone was missing until late afternoon when they called again to say a fisherman was missing,” Lt Colati said.

“That’s when we called the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) for aerial search because Tuvalu and Kiribati are within our region,” he added.

FMSRCC said seven local boats had been searching for the missing man since Tuesday

Air Commodore Andrew Clark, said FMSRCC had requested NZDF assistance late yesterday. The aircraft left Whenuapai air base early this morning and they are now conducting the search.

Lt Colati said the man had gone fishing in a punt for the day near Nukufetau, an atoll about 96 kilometres north of Funafuti, Tuvalu’s capital.

No personal locator beacon had been detected in the area.