Eight people are feared dead after a fishing boat sank on Thursday off New Zealand’s coast.
So far, crews have rescued one survivor and found one body. But poor sea conditions and a long delay before authorities were alerted to the accident has police describing the situation as bleak.
Police say the boat “Easy Rider” was carrying three crew members and six passengers when it capsized near remote Stewart Island. They say one survivor was found about 18 hours later in the frigid sea, clinging to a barrel.
The survivor told police he was on deck just after midnight when the boat was hit by a rogue wave, causing it to capsize almost immediately. He managed to cling to the overturned boat’s hull for about two hours before it sank.
Policy said on Friday they had retrieved the body of a 30-year-old man near where the boat sank and that several vessels and helicopters are continuing to search the area.
It took some 14 hours before authorities knew the boat was missing. The boat was supposed to meet with a helicopter Thursday afternoon, and when it didn’t show up, the helicopter pilot was the first person to raise the alarm.
New Zealand media report that the boat was taking an extended family to a remote island so they could hunt for mutton birds, which are considered a local delicacy, and that two children are among those who are missing.
Just two months ago, the captain of the Easy Rider, Rewai Karetai, was hailed as a hero when he helped rescue three people from another fishing boat which capsized in the area. Two people died in that accident. Karetai is reported as among those missing in the latest incident.