AIRCRAFT from Australia, New Zealand and the US are heading back to their countries after the aerial search for the Kiribati ferry Butiraoi is called off by the Kiribati government.
Kiribati vessels plan to continue the search.
The ferry left Nonouti Atoll on 18 January with 88 passengers and crew on board and sank that day.
An RNZAF P3 Orion aircraft found seven survivors in a dinghy on 28 January.
Kiribati authorities were advised the ferry was missing on 25 January, when they contacted Rescue Coordination Centre Nadi in Fiji, as Kiribati is in Fiji’s search and rescue region.
RCC Nadi was the lead agency for the search and requested support from RCCNZ in providing specialist, long-distance, search aircraft, which were provided by the RNZAF, AMSA, RAAF and the US Coast Guard.