Coast Guard helps locate 24 aboard three canoes, search continues for one canoe with six aboard

CHUUK, Federated States of Micronesia— Search and rescue controllers with the U.S. Coast Guard in Honolulu and Apra Harbor, Guam, have located 24 mariners in a large-scale joint search near Chuuk, Thursday, Nov. 26, 2009.

The 24 are aboard three canoes manned by master navigators, but rescuers are still searching for one large canoe with six mariners aboard.

A C-130 long-range search plane crew from Coast Guard Air Station Barbers Point on Oahu and a U.S. Navy P-3 Orion crew from Anderson Air Force Base on Guam have been searching since Monday for the fourth canoe.

Federated States of Micronesia officials are also conducting search patterns to find the missing six mariners.

The Coast Guard first received notice that 30 mariners in four large canoes were reported missing, early Sunday by Chuuk’s search and rescue coordinator. The Coast Guard C-130 air crew was able to respond rapidly due to being in the area for an unrelated search.

The Coast Guard was advised two canoes with 13 mariners beached on the small island of Onari in good condition Wednesday afternoon.

The Automated Mutual Assistance Vessel Rescue (AMVER) vessel Fair Sky located another canoe approximately 110 miles north of Pulusuk Island with 11 mariners on board later that day. The Fair Sky crew resupplied those aboard the canoe with food, water and other supplies, but the mariners refused transportation assistance so they could continue their trip.

“We’re pleased we located 24 of the mariners,” said Lt. Max Seda, a search and rescue controller with the Joint Rescue Coordination Center in Honolulu. “But we’re still coordinating closely with the Navy and other rescuers to locate the remaining six.”

Search crews have searched an area of approximately 11,000 square miles. The weather on scene was reported to be southeast winds of five to 10 mph and waves of six feet.

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