Matthew Backhouse is a NZME. News Service journalist based in Auckland.

Police call off Easy Rider search

Rewai Karetai aboard the FV Easy Ride. Photo / Supplied
Rewai Karetai aboard the FV Easy Ride. Photo / Supplied

Police have announced that there will be no searches today for the four remaining people missing from the Easy Rider.

The decision was made because no new information has come to hand, however police say that re-activating the search is still a possibility should they receive more information.

Police, SAR staff, the Navy, Riverton and Bluff Coast guards and members of the local commercial fishing fleet have put in around 52 hours of searching since Thursday in the vicinity and wider locality where the Easy Rider was found resting on the sea floor on Friday.

In total, 27 vessels have participated in the search, with a maximum of 15 vessels at any one time.

The Navy Dive squad assisted by the Police Dive squad dived twice at the site yesterday, carrying out an extensive search of the vessel but found no sign of the missing people.

Using a sonar unit they collected visual footage of 40,000 square metres and found nothing significant.

An aerial and sea search was also carried out yesterday. A fixed wing aircraft conducted an aerial search of the mainland coast between an area of roughly Riverton and Waipapa Point.

Two coastguard vessels also searched the mainland coast. The outer islands at Bluff - including the area around Ruapuke Island - was also searched. Nothing of significance was found.

Four bodies had previously been found during searches, one on Thursday and three on Friday. A survivor was also picked up on Thursday.

The contribution of local experts has been invaluable to the search management team to ensure that every conceivable possibility has been looked at.

Police are continuing to support the families with iwi liaison officers and victim support teams.

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