Kaipara Harbour tragedy: Searchers battling choppy water and 2m swells

Rescue helicopter staff at the scene of a fatal boating accident at South Head on the Kaipara Harbour. Photo / Auckland Westpac Rescue Helicopter
Rescue helicopter staff at the scene of a fatal boating accident at South Head on the Kaipara Harbour. Photo / Auckland Westpac Rescue Helicopter

A search for three people missing after a fishing charter trip turned to tragedy on the Kaipara Harbour yesterday could be hampered by choppy water and swells of up to 2m.

Police yesterday confirmed five people had died and three were plucked to safety after the Francie was reported missing at 3.30pm. Eleven people were on board.

A shoreline search around South Head and Te Oneone Rangatira Beach continued into the night yesterday.

Read more: Five dead, three missing in Kaipara fishing charter tragedy: 'It shouldn't have been out there'

However, an air search was stopped because of a significant sea swell and poor visibility, which could put aircraft and their crews at risk.

The search for the missing has resumed this morning, but strong winds were making for choppy conditions.

MetService meteorologist April Clark said there would be gusts of wind around 50km/h, and swells of up to 2m were possible.

"A trough is moving over bringing cloud and northwesterly winds. There will be some gusts. They won't be that strong but they could affect the harbour."

Showers from the early afternoon could pick up late in the day as the wind changed to southwest.

It would be a mild day with temperatures between 15 and 18C.

A Westpac Rescue Helicopter spokeswoman said they were not involved in the search this morning.

Rescue chopper crews would only be called in if someone needed to be winched to safety.

The Francie - which is owned and skippered by local man Bill McNatty - was reported missing near the harbour's treacherous bar crossing.

There were swells of more than 1.5m and heavy winds at the time.

- NZ Herald

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

SIGN UP NOW

© Copyright 2016, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf03 at 07 Dec 2016 12:01:51 Processing Time: 30ms