Six young teenagers missing in the Pacific Ocean

May 9th, 2011 - 5:06 am ICT by BNO News  

TARAWA (BNO NEWS) — An international search and rescue operation was launched on Sunday after six young teenagers were reported missing off the western coast of Kiribati, an island nation located in the central tropical Pacific Ocean.

The six teenagers are aboard a 9 foot (2.7 meters) outrigger canoe which was towing a 7 foot (2.1 meters) dingy. The group, two 19-year-old boys and four girls aged 8, 9, 12, and 14, were on an expedition to collect palm leaves for roofing.

According to Maritime New Zealand, the vessels are powered by poles and are believed to have drifted out a lagoon and in to the open ocean. Kiribati authorities have initiated a search and have a local ship called the ‘Super Carrier’ on scene to assist. Two foreign fishing vessels have also joined the search.

Later on Sunday, Kiribati authorities contacted the Rescue Coordination Center in New Zealand to request further assistance in their rescue operation. In response, the Royal New Zealand Air Force has sent one of its P3 Orion aircraft to join the search.

“The aircraft reached Kiribati at approximately 4 p.m. New Zealand time and searched an area of approximately 1,000 square nautical miles (3,429 square kilometers), starting tonight and continuing tomorrow morning at first light if necessary,” Maritime New Zealand said.

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