20 Mar 2009

New Zealand air force rescues stricken Tongan governor

6:02 pm on 20 March 2009

The Royal New Zealand Air Force says there was a bit of luck involved in locating so quickly a stricken boat carrying a Tongan official.

An Air Force Orion crew of 13 found the vessel 200 kilometres north east of Tongas capital, Nuku'alofa, just before 10.30 this morning.

A spokesperson says after entering the search area it took just 52 minutes for the Orion to find the boat, which was carrying the Governor of Ha'apai, Noble Malupo and some of his staff.

Squadron Leader Kavae Tamariki says the rescue was very successful.

"We dropped a communications radio to the people who were on the vessel so our aircraft could communicate with them and establish that they were all fine and well but the boat was stranded and without power"

Squadron Leader Kavae Tamariki says the Orion was to then coordinate a rendezvous with a Tongan patrol craft sailing to the aid of the survivors.