Seven dead and one missing after boating accident in New Zealand
Auckland: Seven people are dead and another is missing after a fishing boat capsized near Auckland in New Zealand. The Francie charter boat capsized mid-afternoon on Saturday in the Kaipara harbour, north-west of Auckland, according to New Zealand Police. An emergency rescue mission was underway by 3.30pm, involving Police, search and rescue services and local surf life-saving teams from nearby Muriwai beach.
The Francie, a 12-metre-vessel that was carrying 11 people, got into difficulties while attempting to cross a treacherous sand bar in the Kaipara Harbour. Three people were rescued from the water by the Westpac Rescue Helicopter, and Police confirmed they are now in hospital, though could not comment on their status. Witnesses told Television New Zealand that rescuers in helicopters plucked the survivors from the water and placed them on a beach, where locals kept them warm until ambulances arrived. During search and rescue efforts last night five bodies were recovered, and another two bodies were found in the early hours of this morning washed up on local beaches, Police said.
All are believed to have been passengers onboard the sunken Francie, the debris of which has begun washing up onshore. A search began at 7am for the final passenger of the Francie, missing since the capsizing, and now in the water for more than 18 hours. The fate of the skipper and owner of the boat, Bill McNatty, is unknown. Local Kaipara man and charter boat operator Tony Walles said he heard a call from McNatty on the VFX radio about 2.30pm on Saturday, saying he was attempting to cross the bar and he expected it would take one hour.
Walles said sea conditions at the time were rough, and getting progressively worse, with sea swells rising to 3-4 metres.
None of the other five boats in the harbour attempted the crossing, he said.
“I am feeling very sad for the people who have departed.” The Guardian