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Search Continuing For Missing Vessel

Rescue Coordination Centre New Zealand Media Release 2

Tuesday December 30, 2008, 6.15AM

Search Continuing For Missing Vessel

An aerial search overnight has failed to locate the five occupants of an 18 foot boat missing off the Tauranga coast since yesterday.

A Royal New Zealand Airforce P3 Orion spent the night using radar and other specialised search equipment to search for the occupants of the boat, covering an area of approximately 300 square miles (540 square km).

A long range search aircraft from the Phillips Search and Rescue Trust in Taupo, equipped with radar, has this morning resumed searching for the group, with Coastguard vessels on standby and ready to offer assistance if they are located. Helicopters are also on standby to assist pending a break in the weather, which is forecast to improve later in the day. A shoreline search has also been started by Surf Lifesaving and Coastguard units.

Weather in the area is currently poor, with rough seas and limited visibility , The Rescue Coordination Centre New Zealand (RCCNZ), has assumed coordination of the search, which was initially launched by Tauranga Police after one of the people on board sent a text message to a family member at around 11.30am yesterday saying they were lost and asking for help.

Two adults and three children are understood to be on the boat, and were thought to be on a snorkelling trip near Motunau Islandwhen they became lost. It is not known whether the group were carrying a marine VHF radio or any other form of emergency communication equipment.

Police and Coastguard vessels also spent most of yesterday searching for the group without success.

ENDS

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