Three people found alive after helicopter crash

Author
NZ Herald,
Section
National,
Publish Date
Tuesday, 23 April 2019, 8:29AM
A major search operation is under way after a private helicopter went missing in the Auckland Islands, south of New Zealand. Photo / File
A major search operation is under way after a private helicopter went missing in the Auckland Islands, south of New Zealand. Photo / File

Three people have been found alive after their helicopter crashed near the Auckland Islands.

Earlier today it was revealed that a fishing boat had found wreckage from a helicopter that went missing near the Auckland Islands, about 465km south of New Zealand, with three people on board.

The trio were understood to have been found walking on a beach.

However, a Rescue Coordination Centre New Zealand spokesman said details on where the three people were found were still scant.

The private helicopter had been travelling to the Auckland Islands, about 465km south of New Zealand, for a private medical evacuation off a fishing vessel last night but did not reach its destination. Two pilots and a medic were on board.

Southern Lakes Helicopters informed the Rescue Coordination Centre NZ its helicopter was missing at 8.15pm last night and a search operation began immediately.

Rescue Coordination Centre New Zealand duty manager Kevin Banaghan said a fishing boat that had been working on the search had located wreckage from the missing helicopter.

Banaghan said coordinated search efforts were continuing around Yule Island – the helicopter's last known location.

Five fishing boats were scouring the area and a Royal New Zealand Air Force P3 Orion had been using its radar equipment. Two helicopters had also just departed Invercargill and one from Stewart Island to join the search.

Weather conditions had been poor with low cloud in the area but were improving.

Banaghan said the helicopter crew – two pilots and a medic – were trained for emergency situations and would have been wearing cold water immersion suits.

The helicopter also had a life raft and a satellite phone. He said there hadn't been any signals from the helicopter since before RCCNZ was notified it was missing last night.

The person who prompted the private medevac was being taken to Bluff on the vessel they were on.

RCCNZ spokesman Mark Dittner had earlier said the last contact with the helicopter was at 7.37pm last night near Yule Island, at the northern end of the subantarctic island group.

The private helicopter had been travelling to the Auckland Islands, about 465km south of New Zealand, for a medical evacuation but did not reach its destination, Dittner said.

Since 7.37pm there had been no signals from the helicopter nor distress beacons issued.

Southern Lakes Helicopters, in Te Anau, raised the alarm yesterday evening at about 8.15pm, Dittner said.

RCCNZ issued a mayday call last night and five fishing vessels had responded and were assisting with the search.

A helicopter has gone missing on route to the Auckland Islands, south of New Zealand. Photo / Google
A helicopter has gone missing on route to the Auckland Islands, south of New Zealand. Photo / Google

Southern Lakes Helicopters has been approached for comment.

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