Search for missing Tokelauan boys suspended

11 October 2010

The search for three local boys missing in a small runabout in Tokelauan waters since last Wednesday has been suspended, after an extensive aerial and on water search found no trace of them or their vessel.

The Rescue Coordination Centre New Zealand (RCCNZ) was asked by Tokelauan authorities on October 6 to help with the search, after two Tokelauan boys aged 15, and a third, aged 14, went missing from the atoll of Atafu at about 1am the same day. The boys had been last seen some hours earlier, searching for fuel for their small aluminium boat, which had an 18 horsepower outboard motor.

“Sadly, despite an exhaustive search from the air and on the water over several days, there has been no sign of the three boys,” RCCNZ Search and Rescue Officer Keith Allen said.

“After carefully reviewing the search effort, in the absence of any new information, the difficult decision has been made to suspend the search.”

Mr Allen said the search could be resumed if any new information came to light.

More than 21,000 square kilometres had been covered in the search, he said.

“Despite the sad outcome, we thank everyone involved in the search, including the Royal New Zealand Airforce, the crews of the Samoan Police patrol vessel Nafanua and the local ferry MV Tokelau, as well as the many local people who assisted us,” Mr Allen said.

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