WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — The U.S. and Australia are due to join the search for survivors from a ferry that sank near the remote Pacific nation of Kiribati after seven people were rescued from a lifeboat, officials said Monday.
A New Zealand military plane used radar to find the wooden dinghy Sunday, more than a week after a ferry carrying an estimated 50 people between two Kiribati islands disappeared.
The survivors told rescuers the ferry sank and they’d drifted for four days on the lifeboat and had no water.
The military dropped supplies to the survivors, who were later picked up by a fishing boat.
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New Zealand’s Rescue Coordination Centre said an Australian maritime jet and a U.S. Coast Guard C-130 Hercules are due to join the search by Tuesday.
Senior Search and Rescue Officer Greg Johnston said an Orion plane had already searched an area about the size of Germany.
He said the seven survivors were all in reasonable health, and that a Kiribati marine patrol boat with medical workers onboard is due to pick them up Tuesday.
New Zealand’s military on Sunday said the survivors were six adults and an unconscious baby. The rescue center on Monday said the survivors were three men, three women and a 14-year-old girl. The two agencies weren’t able to immediately reconcile their differing accounts.