Rescuers Searching for Overdue Kiribati Ferry

Maritime Activity Reports, Inc.

January 26, 2018

Search and rescue crews are searching for a Kiribati passenger ferry that has gone missing with an estimated 50 people on board in the central Pacific.

The 17.5-meter wooden catamaran MV Butiraoi was reported overdue Thursday night, after departing Nonouiti on January 18 for a two-day, 260-kilometer voyage to Betio Tarawa.
“We understand the vessel underwent repairs to its propeller shaft just before it departed.  This may have contributed to problems navigating the journey,” said Rescue Coordination Center of New Zealand (RCCNZ) senior search and rescue officer John Ashby.
“The weather in that part of the Pacific is currently moderate with some swells,” Ashby said.
A plane from New Zealand left to join the search early this morning, as personnel from Fiji and New Zealand look for a vessel with a dark blue hull and yellow accommodation quarters.
RCCNZ said it is determining the search area for the aerial activity, and is arranging for a local vessel to check along the ferry’s planned route.
The New Zealand Maritime Operations Center and Kiribati Tarawa Radio are broadcasting for sightings on maritime radio, Ashby said. Islands along the route are also being contacted for potential sightings.
“We are doing everything we can to locate this ferry and its passengers,” Ashby said.
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