Wednesday, 26 November 2008 4:57 AM

Search on for Fishermen Missing in Pacific Waters

A search is underway for 29 fishermen, the crew of an abandoned vessel, who appear to be missing somewhere in Pacific waters near Fiji.

The men fisherman went missing off Kiribati and the New Zealand Rescue Coordination Centre was alerted after a Korean fishing crew found the burnt out vessel, Ta Ching 21, on November 9 with no one on board.

According to the Canadian Press, an 'initial search turned up no sign of the missing life rafts or crew' and Rescue Co-ordination Centre spokesman, Ross Henderson, says the last radio transmission from the Taiwan-registered vessel was a personal call on a satellite phone from the captain to his wife in Taiwan although there was no indication that anything was wrong at that point.

According to the report, New Zealand Air Commodore, Gavin Howse, said 'three life rafts and a rescue boat were missing from the Ta Ching 21 - a positive sign the crew was able to abandon ship safely'.

"Despite the time that has elapsed since the vessel's last transmission ... air force personnel ... can successfully locate missing vessels in the most adverse conditions," he said.

However, according to Fijilive, on Thursday (last week) 'there had been no sign of the missing life rafts or crew thought to be made up of Taiwanese, Chinese, Filipino and Indonesian nationals'.

'The Fiji Navy confirmed it had been requested to be part of the search' and the 'Rescue Coordination Centre in Nadi, Fiji, had overall control of the incident as it was within their search and rescue region'.

'A US Air Force plane searched the area on November 12 without success'.

According to The China Post, the RCC spokesman, Ross Henderson, 'said Fiji, which is coordinating the search, was now sending officials to islands north of Kiribati, sparsely inhabited by indigenous tribes with no modern means of communication, to see if any of the crew had come ashore'.

Letters to the Editor All Letters
By STEVE BANI Vura Heights, East Honiara
By GEOFFREY MAURIASI USP, Lacuala Campus, Fiji
By CHARLES KOULI Gizo, Western Province