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Mt Cook search and rescue operation

DATE: 15 AUGUST 2008 TIME : 11AM


Mt Cook search and rescue operation


The Rescue Coordination Centre New Zealand is co-ordinating a search and rescue in the Mt Cook area after receiving an emergency beacon alert late yesterday.

RCCNZ received an initial alert from a 121.5/243 MHz emergency beacon at 10.07pm on Thursday (14 August) which was pinpointed to the Mt Cook area.

Inquiries by RCCNZ showed that a party of six, equipped with a Personal Locator Beacon, had recorded their intention to traverse Annette Plateau from Barron Saddle to Mueller Hut.

RCCNZ is unable to confirm the nationality of the party at this stage.

Weather in the area at present is poor, with heavy snow falling.

A specialist alpine search and rescue team has been assembled and a helicopter is currently on standby at Mt Cook waiting for a break in the weather before taking off.

Land search and rescue teams are currently unable to get into the area due to the avalanche risk.

However, RCCNZ has tasked a helicopter to search a less weather-affected area on the eastern side of Mt Cook, near Jollies River, in an effort to pinpoint the signal more accurately.

Last night the Westpac Rescue Helicopter from Christchurch, in Tekapo to assist with the recovery of the body of a mountaineer in the Two Thumbs Range, was reassigned to respond to the beacon alert, but was unable to reach Mt Cook due to heavy snow.

A second helicopter has been sent to the Tekapo area, to assist with the body recovery.

More information will be provided when the situation changes.

ENDS

RCCNZ is the national coordinator for all major (Category II) search and rescue incidents within New Zealand’s search and rescue region – an area covering more than 30 million square kilometres. It responds to significant incidents on land, air and sea, and all distress alerts from emergency beacons. RCCNZ is part of Maritime New Zealand and is Government-funded to provide a 24 hour, seven day a week service.

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