New Zealand plane finds 7 missing aboard 2 boats in Pacific

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — New Zealand’s military said Tuesday that an air force plane had found seven people who had gone missing aboard two small boats near the remote Pacific nation of Kiribati.

The military said the crew aboard an Orion plane had coincidentally spotted the two boats within 10 nautical miles (18.5 kilometers) of each other Monday after the boats went missing in separate incidents from the island nation late last week.

The military said one of the boats had drifted 150 nautical miles (280 kilometers) from its intended course while the other one was closer to where it had gone missing near Makin Island.

The military crew was able to drop survival kits with water and locator beacons to those aboard, and then contacted nearby boats to rescue the survivors. Among those rescued was an 11-year-old.

Air Commodore Shaun Sexton said it was a great result to be able to find the survivors on both boats.

In a social media post sent before the survivors were found, the Kiribati government had said it had requested New Zealand send a search and rescue team and was grateful for their ongoing help during such incidents.

Located south of Hawaii, Kiribati is home to about 114,000 people and doesn’t have its own military.

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