Fishing boat sinks in New Zealand storm, 4 dead and 1 missing

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Rescuers continue to search for a person still missing a day after a chartered fishing boat carrying 10 people sank in a storm off the coast of New Zealand

WELLINGTON, New Zealand – On Monday, rescuers continued to search for a person still missing a day after a chartered fishing boat carrying 10 people sank in a storm off the coast of New Zealand. A helicopter rescued five people at sea and four bodies were recovered.

The 17m (56ft) boat got into trouble and its distress beacon was activated at 8pm on Sunday off North Cape on the north coast. A helicopter became the first search and rescue vehicle to reach the remote location at 11:40 p.m., said Nick Burt, spokesman for the Maritime NZ Rescue Coordination Centre.

“Weather really hampered the aircraft’s response. There were thunderstorms, dangerous flying conditions, so that was the earliest we could get to the scene,” Burt said.

The boat was confirmed sunk at 2:30 a.m., he said. Weather conditions were more favorable for the search on Monday, with a coordinating Navy patrol boat, helicopters in the air and ground crews scouring the shoreline, Burt said.

Two bodies in the water were recovered by helicopter Monday morning, and two others were picked up by search vessels, police said.

The five people rescued by helicopter were admitted to Kaitaia Hospital and then discharged.

Luis Fernandes, a meteorologist with New Zealand weather agency MetService, said high winds had caused rough seas around the North Cape when the alarm was sounded.

But conditions eased in the area later that night as the search began and the storm system moved south, he said.

The fishing boat had left the northern port of Mangonui on Thursday, the Stuff news site reported.

On board were the captain, a crew member and eight passengers from Auckland, New Zealand’s most populous city, Stuff said.

The captain was among the survivors, the website said. No one else has been identified.

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