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Yacht in distress between NZ and Tonga - #2 8/11/12 4.10pm

DATE: 8 November TIME: 4.10pm

Update #2

Yacht in distress between NZ and Tonga

The damaged yacht Windigo remains afloat with two people on board between Tonga and New Zealand.

An overflight by a French navy Guardian aircraft, from Noumea, confirmed the yacht was still floating and radio contact was established with the crew, a 52-year-old British man, and a 43-year-old Auckland woman. An RNZAF P3-Orion is back in position above the yacht and will remain until 7pm.

They are both understood to have sustained mild to moderate head injuries after their 11.6m yacht rolled after leaving Tonga two days ago. The man has also suffered a back injury. None of the injuries are believed to be serious.

The yacht is about 700km southwest of Tonga and 1260km northeast of New Zealand in 40 knot (75 km/h winds).

The Rescue Coordination Centre New Zealand (RCCNZ) has diverted a freighter, the Chengtu, to the yacht’s position and it is likely to arrive in the area sometime after 1am, at the around the same time as another yacht, Adventure Bound. No rescue would be attempted at night, and it is hoped to have the Orion back in position at daybreak tomorrow.

The off shore patrol vessel HMNZS Otago has also been requested to assist and has diverted from exercises in the Hauraki Gulf. It will take approximately 35 hours to reach the Windigo’s location.

Search and Rescue Mission Coordinator Keith Allen said sea conditions were moderating but remained rough.

“It will be extremely uncomfortable and the people aboard are tired, but the yacht is still afloat so the correct approach is to remain onboard.”

Earlier, the P3-Orion established that a second beacon activated at around 5am this morning 230km southwest of Tonga is from the Tongan fishing boat Lesila which has lost power and has requested a tow to Tonga. The vessel, with three people on board, is on a sea anchor and not in immediate distress. The Tongan police have been informed and will make contact with the owner to organise the tow.


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