Ten primary school children among 80-plus people missing on Kiribati ferry

In Kiribati, 88 people are now confirmed to have been on the sunken ferry MV Butiraoi - including ten primary school children.

The boat sunk a fortnight ago after leaving the island of Nonouti for the capital Tarawa.

Only seven survivors have been found so far on board a wooden dinghy and they are currently enroute to Tarawa on board the Kiribati patrol boat.

A dinghy has been found containing seven people near Kiribati. Source: NZ Defence Force

New Zealand, Australia and the US are continuing air searches in the central Pacific and six vessels are also involved - but hope of finding any further survivors is fading.

The Nonouti Island Council confirmed the number of passengers after visiting every village and family to work out who had boarded the ferry. Their list includes 13 high school students and 10 primary school children.

The 17-metre ferry was believed to be carrying 50 passengers and was travelling from Nonouti island to another island. Source: 1 NEWS

In an address to the nation late yesterday President Taneti Maamau called for the nation to pull together in a week of remembrance and prayer.

“The government is with you the people of Nonouti including those who have been greatly affected by this incomparable incident and it will not run away from it but to humbly accept it and will try its very best to search for the remaining passengers,” he said.

He said so far only objects like wood and a gas cylinder have been found.