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Search for fisherman called off, public warned of seas

The search for 44-year old Lauina Mala, who went fishing on Monday with several friends and was never seen again, was called off Thursday afternoon.

Commander of the Marine Patrol division, Captain Tulele Laolagi told Samoa News Mala went fishing with two other men but left them to come ashore while the others remained out fishing. According to the two men, when they came ashore, they did not see Mala’s shoes where he had left them and they immediately thought Mala had gone home. They were surprised when Mala’s wife asked them for the whereabouts of her husband.

Captain Laolagi said officers and firemen started scouring the seas of Afonotele and Vatia Monday afternoon at 4pm, looking for Mala. He said 17 police officers and firemen were involved in the search using DPS Marine Patrol boats and jet skis and divers conducted an underwater search every day since Monday.

The search was reluctantly called off, said Laolagi, on Thursday with no sign of the missing man.

Mala worked for the Star-Kist cannery and leaves behind his wife, from the village of Afonotele and one son.

Captain Laolagi appealed to the public to stay away from the ocean during this bad weather. He said a ‘high surf’ advisory has been in effect since last week, issued by the National Weather Service in Tafuna, and eight to 12 feet high seas are forecast so please refrain from fishing or swimming until the bad weather passes.