20 Jul 2009

Searchers in Kiribati do not expect to find further survivors from capsized canoe

7:50 am on 20 July 2009

The captain of a boat involved in a search operation in Kiribati says they don't expect to find anymore survivors from a canoe which capsized last Monday.

At least four people are reported to have died and the authorities say they have so far found 12 survivors.

Captain Tatai Tata says one of the survivors told rescue officials that 51 people were on the canoe, not 40 as earlier reported.

But he says this can't be confirmed as the captain of the vessel is one of those missing.

Captain Tata says they are now searching for bodies.

"We don't expect any survivors at the moment but we expect only to collect the bodies of the dead."

The group had been making their way from from the capital, Tarawa, to the outer island of Maiana for Independence Day celebrations.

A New Zealand aircraft was sent to help with the search over the weekend.