Probe launched af­ter deaths in New Zealand boat tragedy

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

An in­ves­ti­ga­tion was un­der way in New Zealand yes­ter­day to de­ter­mine why a char­tered fish­ing boat cap­sized, claim­ing at least seven lives in stormy seas that kept other ves­sels in­shore.

The victims were iden­ti­fied as a group of Pa­cific Is­land friends who reg­u­larly fished to­gether, and the cap­tain of the ves­sel. “In­ves­ti­ga­tors are work­ing to es­tab­lish ex­actly what hap­pened,” po­lice In­spec­tor Mark Fer­gus told re­porters.”We will be as­sess­ing whether there is any cul­pa­bil­ity on the part of any­one in­volved.”

There were 11 peo­ple on the boat, The Fran­cie, when it sank at the en­trance to Kaipara Har­bour, north of Auck­land, on Satur­day af­ter­noon.

Three sur­vivors were res­cued and seven bod­ies re­cov­ered, po­lice said. Ae­rial and shore­line searches con­tin­ued for the miss­ing man, who is pre­sumed dead. Fer­gus said there were life jack­ets on board The Fran­cie but it was not yet known if they were used.

The 12-me­ter Fran­cie went down when try­ing to re-en­ter the har­bor in waves of up to four me­ters. The coast­guard raised the alarm af­ter the ves­sel failed to make the ex­pected ra­dio con­tact when it crossed the sand­bar into the har­bor.

Spokesman Ray Burge told Fair­fax Me­dia that ra­dio logs showed The Fran­cie was the only ves­sel to cross the treach­er­ous bar on both Fri­day and Satur­day. “What I can tell you is that our vol­un­teers re­ported four me­ter swells” in the har­bor, Burge said. A for­mer skip­per of The Fran­cie, who now op­er­ates an­other char­ter boat, told the New Zealand Her­ald con­di­tions were “too rough” to have gone out on Satur­day and he can­celled his sail­ing.

“I stayed home, I’m not stupid,” the Her­ald quoted Rod Bridge as say­ing. The owner of Kaipara Cruises told Ra­dio New Zealand the bar could get very rough and he would not have at­tempted to cross it on Satur­day. “I can tell just from be­ing on the land here it would have been hor­ri­ble down there, I’d say huge seas, break­ing seas, it would have been not a very nice place to be,”Terry Somers said.

Po­lice In­spec­tor Willi Fanene said the pas­sen­gers were all of Pa­cific Is­land de­scent from Tonga, Samoa and the Cook Is­lands and aged be­tween 31 and 59. It is un­der­stood that they char­tered the boat about once a month.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Kuwait

© PressReader. All rights reserved.