Rescue crews search for 6 missing from Tarawa

HONOLULU - A Honolulu-based U.S. Coast Guard C-130 long-range search plane crew takes off from Air Station Barbers Point.  (U.S. Coast Guard photo/Petty Officer 3rd Class Michael De Nyse)

USCG File Photo by Petty Officer Michael De Nys

HONOLULU – A Coast Guard search and rescue crew from Air Station Barbers Point has joined the search for six young people missing in an outrigger canoe in the Pacific Ocean Tuesday.

Aboard the canoe were two men, age 19, four girls ages eight, nine, 12 and 14. The canoe was collecting palm leaves for roofing off the west coast of Tarawa.

They were last seen at 8 p.m., Thursday, Hawaii Standard Time. The canoe was spotted adrift and swamped by local fisherman Saturday. The canoe was also towing a 7-foot aluminum skiff which was no longer attached to the swamped canoe.

The New Zealand Rescue Coordination Center personnel reported the vessels were believed to have drifted out of a lagoon and into the open sea.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Immigration of the Republic of Kiribati requested U.S. Coast Guard assistance Monday at approximately 8 p.m.

The Coast Guard HC-130 Hercules rescue crew arrived on scene approximately 2:30 p.m. Tuesday.

A vessel from Tarawa has been designated as the surface recovery asset. Local fishermen have also been actively engaged in search efforts. The crew has been missing for approximately five days.

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