PLANE SPOTS WRECKAGE OF FERRY OFF VANUATU

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PORT VILA, Vanuatu (May 17, 1999 – Radio Australia)---A French military plane has spotted what is believed to be the wreckage of an inter-island ferry which disappeared off Vanuatu nine days ago with 26 people on board.

The 36-foot Latua was sailing from the Vanuatu capital, Port Vila, to Emae on nearby Api island when it disappeared in bad weather.

The wreckage was spotted on Saturday by the French plane.

A navy vessel from Vanuatu left Sunday for the area to recover the debris and bring it to the capital for identification.

Two French navy aircraft based in New Caledonia and an Australian Orion searched a total of 70 hours of searches for survivors since last Tuesday, but found no one.

For additional reports from Radio Australia, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Radio/TV News/Radio Australia.

DIVERS JOIN SEARCH FOR MISSING VANAIR PLANE IN VANUATU

PORT VILA, Vanuatu (May 17, 1999 – PACNEWS)---The search for the missing Twin Otter VanAir plane crash that killed seven persons will be stepped up with the arrival of a team of expert divers from New Zealand.

The divers will search for the wreckage off the coast of Malapoa beach, where the plane is believed to have nose-dived into the sea. Five persons, including a ni-Vanuatu, three Australians and a Dane survived the crash last Saturday (May 8).

Australian crash investigators are also continuing their investigations, obtaining data from the control tower, aviation and airline personnel and reports from survivors. A report on their findings is expected to be presented to a Commission of Inquiry, which is yet to be established.

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