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This section outlines official Press and Media Statements issued by the Ministry of Information and Communications in addition to Press Releases from the Prime Minister's Office and other Government Ministries and Departments.

Six fishermen rescued

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26th May, 2017 Six fishermen who were missing at sea since Tuesday 23 May 2017 during gale force winds have been rescued.

Police coordinated a search and rescue operation after receiving a report of the missing men at 10:25am on Wednesday 24 May, 2017.

The fishermen left Nuku’alofa on the Lilite 1 heading to an area near Fonoi Ha’apai for a fishing trip on Monday 15 May 2017, they were expected back on Tuesday 23 May, but by Wednesday morning there was no sign of them.

The HMAF V.O.E.A Pangai joined in the Search for the missing fishermen when they picked up the announcement of the missing fishermen on the radio while they were out at sea training.

Police requested assistance from the RCCNZ (Rescue Co-Ordination Centre New Zealand) and with their help requested the assistance of the US Coast Guard C130.

The USCG C130 aircrew were in Auckland attending the 7th Pacific Regional
Search and Rescue Workshop.

The USCG C130 on its way back to Honolulu conducted an aerial search of the predicted search area and located the missing fishing boat the Lilite 1 at 7:35pm Thursday 25 May.

The HMAF V.O.E.A Pangai was deployed with three Police Officers from the Search and Rescue Unit at 10:30pm to pick up and rescued the fishermen. They located the fishermen at 6:30am this morning Friday 26 May and they returned with them to Nuku’alofa at 11:00am.

Commissioner Caldwell wishes to acknowledge the RCCNZ and US Coast Guard for their assistance in making sure that the six fishermen were returned home safely to their family. “Their quick and professional response was greatly received, and I pass on my heartfelt thanks, as well as the families.”

“We especially thank HMAF Navy for their valuable assistance and strong support. We also appreciate the great work of the MET Office, Coastal Radio, local fishermen who assisted in the initial sea search as well as the local Domestic Airline.

“We must all respect the Sea and its many moods. Exercising common sense and
doing basic stuff like checking the weather forecast, carrying beacons, flares, auxiliary engine, and having the means to talk to the shore are basic safety practices.

Feeding your family by catching fish is important but more important is coming back from the sea to feed them again.”


Issued by the: Tonga Police Media & Communication Officer, Tonga Police Headquarters, Longolongo; for media enquiries – Email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it phone (676) 23 323 Fax: (676) 23 036

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