7 Nov 2011

Aerial search to begin for missing Marshalls fishermen

6:47 am on 7 November 2011

An aerial search will begin today for seven fishermen lost at sea in the Marshall Islands.

The national police patrol vessel Lomor and two fisheries department vessels have joined with a private vessel and a visiting yacht to begin searching the area to the west of Maloelap Atoll.

The government-run national air carrier's one plane broke down over the weekend, and a US Coast Guard plane developed engine problems on its flight to Majuro Saturday, forcing it to return to Honolulu.

A second flight arrived yesterday, but to meet air crew rest requirements, their first aerial search will not start until first light today.

The head of the Australian Navy's marine surveillance advisory group, Lieutenant Commander George McKenzie, says there is a possibility the boat has drifted to Wotje Atoll to the north.

He says police have alerted Wotje residents to help in the search for the small boat.