BY DAVID BARBER
Wellington (dpa) – Searchers continued looking Friday for seven people missing from a fishing boat that sank off New Zealand, as police reported finding wreckage floating on the surface.
Police said the body of a 30-year-old man had been recovered. One survivor, suffering from hypothermia after clinging to wreckage for about 18 hours, was in hospital after a Thursday rescue.
One child is among the missing, said to be all members of one Maori extended family, who sailed from the southern-most port of Bluff on Wednesday night. The wreckage of the boat has been located 40 metres below the surface. Those confirmed or believed dead are:
* Shane Ronald Topi, Invercargill, 29.
* William Rewai Desmond Karetai, Skipper of the boat, Bluff, 47.
* Paul Jason Fowler-Karetai, Invercargill, 40
* Odin Karetai, Invercargill, 7.
* Boe Taikawa Gillies, Invercargill, 28.
* John Henry Karetai, Invercargill, 58.
* Peter Glen Pekamu-Bloxham, Invercargill, 53.
* David George Fowler, Invercargill, 50.
Only 44 year old Dallas Tumoana Reedy, of Invercargill, survived the sinking.
Police said the survivor told them that the 11.6-metre Easy Rider capsized immediately after being swamped by a rogue wave in the notoriously rough Foveaux Strait, about four hours after leaving port.
News reports earlier said hopes of finding more survivors were slim as the water in the strait was 13 degrees Celsius – a level at which a human’s expected survival time was no more than six hours.
The alarm was not raised until at least 14 hours after the boat went down, when it failed to make a scheduled rendezvous at Stewart Island.
Police inspector Lane Todd told Radio New Zealand that if the boat was carrying an emergency beacon it had not been activated. He said the body recovered was not wearing a life jacket.
The survivor told police he was on the deck with two others and the rest of the party were in the wheelhouse when the boat was hit. He said he managed to cling to the hull for about two hours and then hung onto a barrel for another 16 hours before being found.
A MetService spokesman was quoted on the Stuff news website as saying there was heavy rain and gale force winds in Foveaux Strait at the time of the capsize, as well as a four-metre swell.
News reports said the boat was skippered by Rewai Karetai, 47, who was making a family outing to get mutton birds, or sooty shearwaters, on the small islands of the strait. They are a delicacy for indigenous Maoris, who have a traditional legal right to take from their breeding grounds at this time of year.