Kaipara boating tragedy: Missing fisherman may still be on boat

Taulagi Afamasaga (left) is still missing after the charter boat he was on capsized on Saturday afternoon. Photo / Supplied
Taulagi Afamasaga (left) is still missing after the charter boat he was on capsized on Saturday afternoon. Photo / Supplied

The fisherman missing after the Francie disaster​ may still be on the boat.

Taulagi Afamasaga, 56, disappeared when the charter boat capsized while trying to cross the Kaipara bar on Saturday afternoon.

The victims: Top row L-R: Skipper Bill McNatty; Sunia Onga' unga; Alipate Manumu'a; Aue Aria. Bottom row L-R: Tevita Tangi; Fonua Taufa; Fred Marsters; Taulagi Afamasaga
The victims: Top row L-R: Skipper Bill McNatty; Sunia Onga' unga; Alipate Manumu'a; Aue Aria. Bottom row L-R: Tevita Tangi; Fonua Taufa; Fred Marsters; Taulagi Afamasaga

Only three of the 11 men on the charter boat survived. Seven bodies have been recovered, but Afamasaga is still missing.

The formal search and rescue operation was suspended midday yesterday.

However, Waitemata Police Inspector Mark Fergus said this morning Afamasaga could still be on the boat.

The Francie charter boat capsized in the Kaipara Harbour. Photo / Facebook
The Francie charter boat capsized in the Kaipara Harbour. Photo / Facebook

Police, Coastguard and the Navy are today using specialist Navy search equipment where the boat is believed to have capsized, a search described as a "slow and meticulous process".

If the boat is found, the Afamasaga family will be told before police release any details publicly.

The area where the Francie disappeared is notoriously dangerous and the search will be dependent on sea conditions, tides and currents.

- NZ Herald

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