Air Force crew find youths lost at sea


The crew of an air force Orion have found three teenagers missing in a small boat since Saturday in the Tokelau Islands.

A P3K Orion which left Whenuapai in Auckland at 6am today spotted the trio about 70-80 nautical miles west-southwest off Atafu Atoll about 3.45pm (NZT).

National Rescue Co-ordination Centre (NRCC) spokesman Jim McLean said a motor boat had been sent to retrieve the youths, aged 13-15, but it would take about seven hours to get to them.

Mr McLean said the youths appeared to be in good health and the weather was fine.

"There's no reason with the weather that's prevailing up there to think that they have been injured or hurt in any way."

He said the plane had to search a 12,700 nautical sq mile area.

It helped that their boat was made of aluminium as it was easier for radar equipment to find it.

"Although it was only small, 4m or so big, it does give a better radar target than does, say, a timber boat."

The trio had been missing since Saturday afternoon in their outboard motor-powered boat.

After locals failed to find them the NRCC was contacted yesterday morning.

Another air force Orion unsuccessfully searched the area yesterday.