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Wreckage found in search for helicopter with three on board

23 April 2019

A fishing boat has found wreckage from a helicopter that is missing in the Auckland Islands with three crew on board.

Rescue Coordination Centre NZ is overseeing the search for the helicopter that had flown from Invercargill – a 1,000 kilometre round trip (500 km each way) – to conduct a private medevac off a fishing vessel when it disappeared last night.

The owner’s last radio contact with the machine was at 7.37 pm. Southern Lakes helicopters informed Rescue Coordination Centre NZ its helicopter was missing at 8.15 pm. The RCCNZ team commenced searching immediately.

Rescue Coordination Centre NZ duty manager Kevin Banaghan said a fishing boat RCCNZ has been working with on the search had located wreckage from the missing helicopter.

He said coordinated search efforts are continuing in the location around Yule Island – the helicopter’s last known location. Five fishing boats are scouring the area and a Royal New Zealand Air Force P3 Orion has been using its radar equipment. Two helicopters have just departed Invercargill and one from Stewart Island to join the search.

Weather conditions have been poor with low cloud in the area but are improving.

Banaghan said the helicopter crew – two pilots and a medic – were trained for emergency situations and would have been wearing cold water immersion suits. The helicopter also had a liferaft and a satellite phone. He said there hadn’t been any signals from the helicopter since before RCCNZ was notified it was missing last night.

The person who prompted the private medevac is being taken to Bluff on the vessel they were on.

Further updates will issued when available.


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