Boat towed in hunt for missing Samoan fishermen

STACEY KIRK
Last updated 20:27 17/12/2012

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Samoan police have towed an un upturned fishing boat to Apia, after it was spotted in the search for 10 fishermen missing from four separate boats after Cyclone Evan hit Samoa.

The upturned boat was believed to be one of the missing boats, but has not been formally identified. No sign of the crew has been found, the Rescue Coordination Centre New Zealand (RCCNZ) said.

A New Zealand Defence Force Orion and a French navy aircraft searched around 4800sq km of ocean on the second day or aerial searching today.

Fisherman Roma Vaeloaloa described holding on to a piece of wood for 24 hours and floating several kilometres to Manono Island from the boat he was on, while being battered by wind and high seas.

His friends and workmates who were on board when the boat  sunk were still missing at sea, TVNZ reported.

"I couldn't help them. It happened so quickly," Vaeloaloa said.

"Right now, I am thankful to the Lord for this miracle, for sparing this life, as I am able to stand on land and see my family," he said.

"I heard my two fishing buddies call out 'Roma, please, I want to live'. That's all I heard," he said.

RCCNZ Search and Rescue Mission Coordinator Geoff Lunt said debris from the cyclone was making the search difficult.

 "There is a lot of flotsam in the ocean which makes the visual search quite challenging but the aircraft will be coordinating their efforts to ensure the search area is thoroughly covered," he said.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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