Big search ef­fort for lost men

Taupo Times - - CRAFT BEER CLUB GAINS AND FOOD PROMOTION - ROBERT STEVEN

Searchers con­tinue to find items be­lieved to be­long to the two men lost in rugged bush near the Ton­gariro Na­tional Park.

The men, one of which has been named as Vin­cent Tau­rima from Palmer­ston North, ran into the bush on Satur­day night af­ter be­ing pur­sued by po­lice on the Desert Rd.

Po­lice, army per­son­nel and LandSAR vol­un­teers re­sumed their search on Thurs­day – the fifth day of the res­cue mis­sion.

The men were last heard from on Sun­day when they rang po­lice to ask for help.

Se­nior sergeant Tony Jeuris­sen said more items were be­ing found each day.

‘‘We’re con­tin­u­ing to find items of in­ter­est and we’re in the process of con­firm­ing they be­long to the two men.’’

The pa­ram­e­ters of the search had been nar­rowed down af­ter find­ing the items, Jeuris­sen said.

The search area is now be­tween the Desert Rd and the Ton­gariro River, near the Pil­lars of Her­cules gorge, with Tree Trunk Gorge Rd to the south.

The area in­volves both the Kaimanawa For­est Park and the Ton­gariro Na­tional Park.

‘‘It’s not a huge area, but the scrub is thick, dense and un­invit­ing,’’ Jeuris­sen said.

‘‘It is dif­fi­cult for these searchers to get through. Be­cause of the weather con­di­tions, en­ergy lev­els are sapped quite quickly.

‘‘Those are some of the dif­fi­cul­ties the searchers them­selves have found.’’

Two spe­cially-trained search and res­cue dogs are as­sist­ing. Poor weather con­di­tions mean heli­copters can­not as­sist.

Po­lice con­firm they’ve so far found two shoes in separate places, a drink bot­tle, the re­mains of a camp­fire and pieces of cloth­ing, that are strongly be­lieved to be­long to the men.

‘‘It’s a sig­nif­i­cant op­er­a­tion of na­tional in­ter­est and ev­ery avail­able re­source we have is be­ing com­mit­ted to this op­er­a­tion,’’ Jeuris­sen said.

The fam­ily of the men were out search­ing un­til late on Wednes­day af­ter­noon.

On Wednes­day evening, po­lice met with the mens’ whanau to pro­vide an up­date.

Jeuris­sen said the po­lice would like to thank Ngati Tuwhare­toa.

‘‘This land we’re search­ing on is their sa­cred Whenua. They’ve been very sup­port­ive of the po­lice op­er­a­tion and they’ve as­sisted us tremen­dously.’’

.’’

Searchers pre­pare to head off.

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