Missing vessel

Search underway after distress signal near Tuvalu

The distress signal was made close to Niulakita Island, the southernmost island of Tuvalu, 3700 kilometres north of New Zealand.

Air Commodore Andrew Clark said an Orion aircraft took off this afternoon at the request of the Fiji's Rescue Coordination Centre.

"The coordinates from the distress call were used to define the search area and will hopefully help us pinpoint the beacon's location," Mr Clark said in a statement.

"At present, all we know is that a beacon has been activated in the vicinity of Tuvalu and we are helping Fijian authorities locate it."