Rebecca Quilliam is senior reporter at the NZME. News Service office in Wellington.

Emergency services busy with water rescues

Photo / Supplied
Photo / Supplied

Beachgoers rushed to the rescue of three boys as they were pulled out to sea in a rip at a Bay of Plenty beach today.

The incident happened at Maketu Beach, 62km northwest of Whakatane about 2.30pm.

Fire chief and Coastguard Shane Beech said the children were brothers and were aged between about 8 and 14.

"By the time we'd got there, some members of the public had got them and brought them back to shore.''

The children were taken to hospital suffering from shock and hypothermia, he said.

The parents were on the beach at the time he said.

Special hypothermia blankets were wrapped around the boys until the ambulance arrived.

The beach was usually a safe beach, but during an outgoing tide a rip can run out from the channel, which was where the boys must have been swimming, Mr Beech said.

The family did not look local, so might not have known about the danger, he added.

"If you swim close to the channel then you're asking for trouble.''

The rescue was one of three around the country today.

Three divers were rescued after failing to return to Kapiti Island about midday.

The group was last seen at Tarere Mango Point, at the southwest point of the island.

The Westpac Rescue Helicopter, a Coastguard fixed wing plane, several Coastguard boats, Surf Live Saving IRBs and several private boats searched a wide area near the Southern End of Kapiti Island, Life Flight crewman Dave Greenberg said.

Inspector Chris Tate from central police communications said they were found "in good condition'' by the search vessels about 2pm nearly 5km from Tarere Mango Point.

They had been brought into shore and did not require any medical attention, he said.

Earlier in the day two people were rescued after their boat capsized off the South Wairarapa coast this morning.

Mr Tate said the captain of the stricken small launch was able to put a mayday call to the Rescue Coordination Centre just before 11am.

As the Westpac Rescue helicopter approached the search area the men in the water called the chopper on their portable marine radio and were able to talk the helicopter into their location.

Both men were wearing wetsuits and were clinging to some floating bits from their boat.

The helicopter was able to winch the pair to safety.

Mr Tate said they were ok, "they had just swallowed a lot of salt water''.

The men were taken to shore suffering mild hypothermia, but they did not need to be hospitalised.

Meanwhile, four separate maritime incidents near Dunedin kept emergency services busy yesterday.

Three of the four rescues were due to mechanical problems prompting authorities to remind boaties to check equipment before heading out.

They said boaties needed three forms of communication.

"We had text messages from one person, which is not ideal,'' Search and rescue co-ordinator Senior Sergeant Brian Benn said.

Mr Benn said search and rescue usually had one or two call outs a week so four in one day was a record.

"It was a beautiful day so there were a lot of people on the water.

People need to go out prepared for anything.''

More than 20 surf lifesavers from the two main surf clubs assisted search and rescue throughout the day.

There were no injuries but during the rescue of the commercial fishing boat, Lady Ann, the skipper's pet black labrador jumped overboard during the tow and was last seen swimming towards shore.

- additional reporting Kirsty Wynn of the Herald on Sunday


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