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RNZAF Orion spots man in mid-Pacific

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 25/04/2017

A man waving his paddles from a life raft in the middle of the Pacific Ocean has been spotted by an RNZAF Orion searching for a missing Tongan fisherman.

The Rescue Coordination Centre of New Zealand says the Orion found the man, who is believed to be the fisherman, around 2pm on Tuesday..

He was in the middle of a 4000sq km search area.

Spokesman Conrad Reynecke says Tongan police will send a boat to the location, which is about 13km south-east of Eua Island.

The Orion will circle overhead until the rendezvous is complete.

The fisherman had rung his family by mobile phone at 6pm on Saturday to say the engine on his 5m fibreglass boat had broken down while he was returning to Ohonua, on Eua Island.

The call sparked a search by Tongan police, who requested help from RCCNZ.

The Orion left Whenuapai in Auckland on Monday, arrived in the area in the late afternoon and searched for about an hour, before spending the night in Tonga.

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