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RNZAF Orion in search for Tongan fisherman

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 24/04/2017

An RNZAF Orion is heading to Tonga to search for a missing fisherman, whose boat engine failed off the main island of Tongatapu.

The fisherman hasn't been heard from since he rang his family on his mobile phone about 6pm on Saturday after the problem on his 4.8-metre vessel.

Air Commodore Darryn Webb says the P-3K2 Orion left Whenuapai in Auckland after a request from the Rescue Coordination Centre New Zealand and is due to reach the search area around 4.45pm on Monday.

"The crew will try to find the vessel and establish communications with the skipper so we can ascertain the problem and provide assistance as required," he said.

"Tongan authorities have launched a search but have had no success to date."

The boat is believed to be between the islands of Tongatapu and Eua, and the search area is estimated at 16,600 sq km.

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