5 Jun 2013

Tonga police give up hope finding three missing divers

7:00 pm on 5 June 2013

Tonga's police commissioner says he has given up hope of finding three men lost at sea off Neiafu since Thursday.

Six men went out on a boat with torches for reef diving and fishing a week ago and are understood to have encountered rough seas.

Three of the men lost sight of their companions and spent the night on a sandbar, before returning to their boat and heading home to raise the alarm.

The police commissioner Grant O'Fee says while a plane was used in the search area very high swells prevented the use of boats.

"It was very windy and rough and it was deemed to be not safe to attempt that so it was another two days before they were able to get vessels into the area where these folk had gone fishing. We had no sightings at all, they weren't in any sort of life raft or any equipment like that."

Grant O'Fee says he called the search off on Monday night.

The missing fishermen are Fangupo Fifita, 'Ahio Fe'iloaki and Pauli Malimali.