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Missing fishermen found on Tongan island

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 13/12/2016

A father and son missing off Tonga since Saturday have been found by a New Zealand Defence Force search plane.

The Orion surveillance aircraft spotted the duo waving their shirts on Hunga Tonga island, about 58 kilometres northwest of the Tongan capital of Nuku'alofa.

They appeared to be well and their wooden boat intact.

The Kiwi aircrew dropped them a radio and emergency water and food supplies and contacted the Tongan Navy to arrange for their rescue.

The alert had earlier been raised after they failed to return from a day-long fishing trip off Tonga's Eua Island on December 10.

The search was the NZDF's 12 search and rescue operation in the Pacific since January.

The force's NH90 medium utility helicopters and Orion surveillance aircraft have flown more than 210 hours on 17 search and rescue missions in New Zealand and the Pacific in that time.

This is a 44 per cent increase over the 147 flying hours recorded in 2015.

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