Seven people missing for days in Pacific found by New Zealand air force

The Royal New Zealand Air Force crew was able to drop survival kits with water and locator beacons to those on board.

New Zealand Pacific Rescue
New Zealand Pacific Rescue

A New Zealand air force plane has found seven people who went missing on board two small boats near the remote Pacific nation of Kiribati late last week.

A military spokesman said the crew on an Orion plane had coincidentally spotted the two boats within 18.5 kilometres of each other on Monday after the boats went missing in separate incidents from the island nation.

He said one of the boats had drifted 280 kilometres from its intended course while the other one was closer to where it had gone missing near Makin Island.

New Zealand Pacific Rescue
The survivors were found near Makin Island, Kiribati (RNZAF via AP)

The Royal New Zealand Air Force crew was able to drop survival kits with water and locator beacons to those on board, 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 said it had requested New Zealand send a search and rescue team and was grateful for their help during such incidents.

Located south of Hawaii, Kiribati is home to about 114,000 people and does not have its own military.

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