Four dead, one missing after fishing boat carrying 10 people sinks in New Zealand storm

Air, land and water searches are underway to rescue missing person

Maroosha Muzaffar
Monday 21 March 2022 12:18 GMT
This photo shows a charter fishing boat, right, operated by Enchanter Fishing Charters, at the Mangonui Wharf in Mangonui, New Zealand on 21 March
This photo shows a charter fishing boat, right, operated by Enchanter Fishing Charters, at the Mangonui Wharf in Mangonui, New Zealand on 21 March (New Zealand Herald via AP)

Four people died after a chartered fishing boat carrying 10 people sank in a storm off North Cape on New Zealand’s northern coast.

On Monday, rescue teams said that they had rescued five people from the sea but one person was missing. Rescue officials are continuing to look for them.

Around 8pm on Sunday, an emergency position-indicating radio beacon was activated by a vessel, authorities said. Soon after, the search and rescue operation commenced, and five people were “winched to safety and taken to Kaitaia Hospital”, they added.

Those rescued are currently in a stable condition. They included captain Lance Goodhew and senior deckhand Kobe O’Neill, Stuff NZ reported. The boat also included eight passengers from Auckland but the other survivors have not yet been identified.

The victims included 43-year-old Mark Sanders, who had called his wife around 6pm on Sunday and told her that he was having a “ball of a time” but the sea was starting to get rough. Another victim was identified as 63-year-old Richard Bright.

The charter vessel, Enchanter, which was operating out of Mangonui, sank around 2.30 am on Monday.

Maritime New Zealand’s Rescue Coordination Centre spokesperson Nick Burt said: “This is a significant rescue operation, with a number of agencies working together in the search. The weather conditions are more favourable today and we are completely focused on the search and rescue.”

“The weather really hampered the response from the aircraft. There were thunderstorms, dangerous flying conditions, so that was the earliest we could get to the scene,” he added, referring to the two-hour delay for responders to get to the scene on Sunday.

The 56-foot long vessel got into trouble due to the storm and activated its emergency beacon at 8pm on Sunday. But a helicopter reached the spot only around 11.40 pm.

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 by the vessel.

As the weather condition has improved, helicopters have been pressed into action to search for the missing person from air, while vessels and rescue teams are supporting the search on water and along the shoreline.

Additional reporting by agencies

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