Coast Guard continues search for fisherman 2100 miles southwest of Oahu

C-130 Taking off from Barbers Point

USCG File Photo - Air Station Barbers Point

HONOLULU — Coast Guard crews continue to search Wednesday for a 50-year-old fisherman reported overdue near Wotja Island, in Ailinglaplap Atoll 2,100 miles southwest of Oahu.

Coast Guard search and rescue coordinators received a call from the American Embassy in the Republic of Marshall Islands at 1:20 p.m. Monday, requesting assistance in locating Mosen Abija, last seen Friday morning in a 12-foot wood-hulled canoe with a gray sail.

Abija departed at first light Friday morning from Wotja Island on a fishing trip with two other men, each aboard their own canoe. At 9 a.m. a storm passed through the Atoll. Two of the canoers made it safely back to Wotja Island by noon Friday; however, Abija did not. Island residents searched the lagoon and visited all surrounding islands, but were unable to locate either the canoe or Abija.

Coast Guard search and rescue coordinators launched a C-130 Hercules aircraft from Coast Guard Air Station Barbers Point, Monday. The aircrew arrived Tuesday and searched throughout the day. The search and rescue resumed Wednesday morning at 10 a.m.

The search area is focused in the vicinity of Ailinglaplap Atoll, where rescuers have covered more than 1,120 square miles — an area nearly twice the size of Oahu.

“We are conducting a detailed search for Abija,” said Cmdr. Mark Morin, the 14th Coast Guard District Incident Management Division Chief. “We will evaluate all information throughout the day in order to have the best chance at finding him.”

Searchers on scene reported weather conditions of 2-foot seas and winds less than 10 mph. Ailinglaplap Atoll is a coral atoll of 56 islands in the Pacific Ocean, and forms the district of the Ralik Chain in the Marshall Islands.

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