Kiribati suspends aerial search for sunken ferry passengers

The Kiribati government has suspended the aerial search for passengers of a ferry that sunk a fortnight ago.

Maritime New Zealand this morning confirmed the directive which came through the Rescue Coordination Centre in Nadi in Fiji.

Maritime New Zealand's Vince Cholewa says authorities in Kiribati say they will be continuing with several vessels involved in their ocean search.

Mr Cholewa says they will be focusing on the area around where the MV Butiraoi is believed to have gone down with around 88 men, women and children on board.

He says they will also be tracking back along the route the catamaran is believed to have taken from its last port of call at Nonouti Island.

So far only seven people have been found by rescuers.