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7 survivors from missing Pacific ferry found aboard dinghy

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) – New Zealand rescuers have found seven survivors from a ferry carrying an estimated 50 people that went missing more than a week ago from the Pacific nation of Kiribati.

Defence Force Air Commodore Darryn Webb says a military Orion plane found the survivors Sunday aboard a small dinghy and dropped them supplies including food, water and a radio. He says a fishing vessel has diverted to the location and is expected to pick up the survivors Sunday afternoon.

Authorities say the MV Butiraoi, a 17.5-metre (57-foot) wooden catamaran, left Nonouti Island bound for South Tarawa on Jan. 18. The journey of 240 kilometers (149 miles) was expected to take two days.

Senior Search and Rescue Officer John Ashby says the ferry was first reported missing to them on Friday.

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