Air Force finds missing fishermen

The Orion will refuel in Tokelau before returning to New Zealand this evening. Herald file picture

Two fishermen missing from the Tokelau Islands have been found by the crew of a Royal New Zealand Air Force Orion, sent this morning to join in a search for the men.

The pair failed to return from a fishing trip off Atafu Atoll yesterday morning and local authorities called for the Orion, which left Whenuapai before dawn today.

The two men were found floating in their aluminium dinghy shortly after 11am about 25km southwest of the atoll, both waving frantically at the aircraft.

Local ship the MV Tokelau was diverted from the area it had been searching and rescued the men about 12.20pm.

The pair appeared to be in good health. It was not clear why they had not returned home.

The Orion aircraft was to refuel at Faleolo in the islands and was expected to land at Whenuapai by this evening.