Air Force Orion finds distressed fishing boat
An Air Force Orion has found a disabled fishing boat with five people on board about 170km north east of Samoa.

The New Zealand Rescue Co-ordination Centre (RCCNZ) said the Orion found the distressed boat early yesterday, after it was located by a satellite that had picked up its distress signal.

RCCNZ mission co-ordinator Geoff Lunt said the Orion left just after midnight to fly to Samoa and began searching for the fishing boat Rowena's beacon at first light. "A radio was dropped down to the crew so they could communicate, and it was discovered the vessel's batteries were flat and they had been drifting, dead in the water, with no other means of calling for help.

"All five on board are safe and well. They would have been very relieved to see the Orion flying towards them," Mr Lunt said.

"The Orion located the closest available vessel, Tokolau, which is now heading towards the Rowena. It was expected to arrive late yesterday afternoon and was to try to restart the vessel or tow it to Samoa," he said.

A spokeswoman for RCCNZ said so far the rescue was going "very well" and the only problem had been to find a boat in the area to tow the fishing boat back.

She said the rescue centre was tracking the boat.