Search for missing Samoan fishermen called off

Last updated 12:23 18/12/2012

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A search for 10 men who went missing off Samoa during Cyclone Evan while fishing has been called off.

Maritime New Zealand said three days of searching involving a Royal New Zealand Air Force P3 Orion and a French Marine Nationale Guardian aircraft covered around 5,000 square kilometres but failed to find any sign of the men.

If the men are dead, as presumed, Evan has claimed 14 lives in Samoa.

Samoa Police asked the Rescue Coordination Centre New Zealand to scale down the search for the men, from four missing fishing boats, after the RNZAF P3 Orion completed a final visual search of one of the smaller islands this morning.

RCCNZ Search and Rescue Coordinator Neville Blakemore said the search could be reactivated if new information came to hand.

"We are confident that the area has been thoroughly covered in difficult circumstances," he said. "This is obviously a tragic outcome for the families of the men involved and our thoughts are with them."

One vessel believed to be one missing boats was found.

The men were fishing on Thursday as Evan struck.

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