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FIJI TIMES ONLINE Wednesday, July 22, 2009

THE search for 22 people missing after their boat capsized has been called off. The Fiji Navy's search and rescue unit said they had called of the search but could not say when the search was cancelled. Military spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Neumi Leweni said he was in a meeting and could not divulge information on the incident. Last Monday, a vessel travelling from the Kiribati capital, Tarawa, to neighbouring Maiana, a village atoll, capsized with 51 people on board. Among those lost at sea were four babies.

The Royal New Zealand Air Force called off its search yesterday after scouring the seas around Kiribati and Maiana for days. "Earlier in the week, the crew from a RNZAF C-130 Hercules aircraft, visiting the area as part of a diplomatic mission, was able to respond and conducted an initial search," said squadron leader Kavae Tamariki. The RNZAF said it understood that five people swam ashore and raised the alarm.

An e-mail sent to the Kiribati High Commission's first secretary, Penita Kabubuke, on Monday remained unanswered. Meanwhile, the Rabi Island Council has sent its condolences to the Kiribati Government.

The people of Rabi have direct links to Kiribati, formerly the Gilbert Islands

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