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

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — Rescuers on Monday were continuing to search for one person still missing a day after a chartered fishing boat carrying 10 people sank in a storm off the New Zealand coast. A helicopter rescued five people from the sea, and four bodies have been recovered.

The 17-meter (56-foot) boat got into trouble and its emergency beacon was activated at 8 p.m. Sunday off North Cape on the northern 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 Maritime NZ’s Rescue Coordination Center.

“The weather really hampered the response from the aircraft. There was 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 Monday, with a navy patrol boat coordinating, helicopters in the air and ground crews scouring the shoreline, Burt said.

Two bodies in the water were recovered by helicopter on Monday morning, and another two were recovered by search vessels, police said.

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

Luis Fernandes, a meteorologist with New Zealand’s weather agency MetService, said gale-force winds had whipped up rough seas around North Cape at the time the alarm was raised.

But conditions eased in the area later in the 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 website 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 with survivors, the website said. No one else has been identified.

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