KIRIBATI authorities have confirmed that about 80 passengers and a crew of five were on the ferry Butiraoi that sank on January 18. It was previously reported that the ferry was carrying about 50 passengers.
Seven survivors in a dinghy were rescued on Sunday (28 January) and the search continues for survivors.
The ferry – a 17.5-metre wooden catamaran – was equipped with a life raft designed for 25 people.
Rescue Coordination Centre New Zealand (RCCNZ) is supporting RCC Nadi in Fiji, which is leading the search, and the Kiribati authorities. Kiribati is in Fiji’s search and rescue area.
RCCNZ watch leader Neville Blakemore said an RNZAF P-3 Orion had been searching for four days and its crew were resting today and carrying out any necessary work on the aircraft.
Mr Blakemore said three further aircraft – from the RAAF, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority and the United States Coast Guard – joined the search more recently and are continuing today.