Police seek camping group in man's disappearance

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Whiritoa Beach.
Whiritoa Beach.

UPDATED 12.46am: Police are interested in speaking to a group of people who had been camping south of Whiritoa beach at the weekend, following the reported disappearance of a man believed to have fallen from rocks.

A person was seen entering the water off rocks at the southern end of Whiritoa beach shortly after 5pm yesterday afternoon. The person was not seen to leave the water.

A search of the area was carried out using a coastguard vessel, surf lifesaving rescue vessels and a coastguard air patrol. Nothing was located as a result of that search.

The search phase has been scaled down today. There have been no reports of a missing person and enquiries locally have failed to confirm the circumstances.

Police are interested in identifying and speaking to members of the group to see if they can assist in resolving the situation, either through something they may have seen or in identifying the swimmer.

Anybody with information is asked to contact Sergeant Ranger at the Whangamata Police phone 07 865 0304.


UPDATED 10.56am: The search for a man who reportedly fell off the rocks at Whiritoa into the sea about 5pm yesterday is being scaled back.

Hamilton Senior Sergeant Rupert Friend said police had spent a couple of hours this morning searching for the man with no success.

"There's been nobody reported as missing, no cars in the area and nothing to indicate somebody is missing," he said.

Mr Friend said the search would be scaled back unless new information came to light.

Surf Lifesaving New Zealand eastern region programmes and services manager Mike Lord said life guards from Whiritoa, Waihi and Whangamata had taken part in the search last night.

Police last night said a person saw a man fall off rocks at the south end of the beach about 5pm and did not seen him resurface so left the beach to call for help.

EARLIER: The search is on to find a man who was seen falling off rocks at Whiritoa and into the sea.

Eastern Waikato police said the man was observed falling of the rocks and not resurfacing about 5pm yesterday at the south end of the beach.

Senior Sergeant Gael Mockford said the male was on the rocks for an hour prior to entering the water and was described as wearing a white shirt.

"Due to the witness needing to leave the beach to call for assistance, Police are unsure if the male that entered the water is still missing.

"Police are appealing for members of the public with information about this incident to phone their local police station.

If anyone is aware of a male entering the water from the rocks at Whiritoa, who is now safely at home; or if anyone has information about a missing person in Whiritoa, please contact the police."

Whiritoa is a small beach village on the Coromandel Peninsula between Whangamata and Waihi Beach.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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