5 dead after whale overturns fishing boat off New Zealand

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Five people have died after their boat sank following a possible collision with a whale off New Zealand on Saturday.

The incident involved a 28ft vessel usually reserved for fishing trips and happened near Kaikōura, about 112 miles northeast of Christchurch, in what Mayor Craig Mackle considered calm waters.

Six people survived.

“Our hearts go out to everyone involved, including the victims and their families, local communities and emergency services personnel,” Kaikōura Police Sgt. Matt Boyce said.

The victims have not been publicly identified.

The captain was one of survivors, reported BBC News. Although they were all taken to hospital, the survivors have all since been released.

The exact species of whale that allegedly led to the tragedy has not been identified, although sperm whales and humpback whales were found nearby.

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Mackle told The Associated Press that he had thought in the past about the possibility of a boat and a whale colliding, given the number of whales that frequent the area.

“It’s always playing in your mind that it could happen,” he said.

The boat was a charter vessel typically used for fishing trips, Mackle said.

Kaikōura is a popular destination for whale watching. A number of companies offer boat or helicopter tours so tourists can see whales, dolphins and other sea creatures up close.

The tragedy will be probed by Maritime New Zealand investigators following recovery efforts.

With dispatch services

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