THE search and rescue centre in Honiara says, there is still no sighting of the missing five people missing at sea between Ulawa Island and Small Malaita.
The search and rescue centre says after five days searching the waters within the vicinity of the area, the search and rescue mission operation involving ships, helicopter and outboard motor powered boats, still has not sighted the missing canoe and its five passengers.
The canoe with five people on board went missing while traveling from Hadja village Ulawa Island to Fanalei in South Malaita last Friday.
Deputy Director Operation of Solomon Islands Maritime Safety (SIMSA) Brian Aonima confirmed that after five days of searching right up to yesterday the search and rescue mission has yet to make any sighting of the missing canoe.
He said the 20 foot fibre glass grey canoe is powered by a 60 horsepower outboard motor engine.
Mr Aonima said so far the search and rescue mission had covered vast area of ocean within Ulawa/South Malaita, Sikaiana, East Malaita, North Malaita, Santa Ana, and Three Sister islands, Ugi Island, Makira and East Guadalcanal without traces of the missing boat.
Mr Aonima said while hopes of finding the missing canoe and its five passengers are slowly fading, the centre is likely to scale down the search efforts within the coming days.
He said the centre will announce through the media at an appropriate time when it is necessary to call off the search and rescue operations.
In the meantime he said the patrol boat Auki is still out in the search area.
SIMSA Deputy Director pointed out that it would be easier to find the boat if it is floating in the ocean but would be quite difficult to see it if it had sunk and submerged under water.
Meanwhile Makira Provincial Police Commander (PPC) Richard Hane said they have received a directive from the headquarters in Honiara to abandon their search operation and concentrate in the meantime on the lookout along coastal areas.
The same also applies to Auki police, Malaita province who said they have halted their search operations after five days.
Meanwhile Kira Kira police have reported that staff police officer who had returned to Kira Kira from Ulawa Island had confirmed five male adults were on board the missing boat owned by the Ministry of Forestry.
He said according to information received from relative members from Ulawa island, they were unable to make communication contacts with those on board since the mobile phones of those on-board were somehow strangely switched off.
The report revealed the canoe carried seven gallons of fuel which was anticipated more than enough for the one hour journey from Ulawa Island to Fanelei, Small Malaita.
By AATAI JOHN