Wed, Apr 24, 2019 - Page 5 News List

Crew of crashed NZ helicopter found on uninhabited island

AP, WELLINGTON

The crew of a helicopter that crashed off New Zealand’s coast while on a rescue mission were yesterday found alive on a remote island after they went missing overnight.

The three men were found before noon in their survival suits, walking along a beach on uninhabited Auckland Island, about 500km southwest of the town of Invercargill from which they had departed 16 hours earlier, Rescue Coordination Centre New Zealand spokesman Mark Dittmer said.

The crew had some injuries and were being flown by helicopter to a hospital in Invercargill, he said, adding that the wreckage of their helicopter was found in the water near a neighboring island.

While all the details of what happened were yet unknown, it appears the helicopter crashed in the ocean near the islands and that the crew’s survival suits helped them survive the frigid and stormy waters, Dittmer said.

The helicopter left on Monday evening to evacuate a person aboard a fishing boat who needed urgent medical attention, center duty manager Kevin Banaghan said, adding that on board were a pilot, a crewmember and a paramedic.

Final contact with the helicopter was at 7:37pm, Banaghan said, adding that it disappeared from radar tracking about 10 minutes later.

There was no distress call and the crew did not activate their emergency beacons, which worried rescuers, he said.

A fishing boat yesterday morning found a side door from the helicopter in relatively good condition, he said, raising hopes that the impact of the crash had not been too severe.

Other helicopters and fishing boats joined in the search, including one carrying Sir Richard Hayes, who owns the helicopter company the crew work for, Southern Lakes Helicopters, which found the trio.

The paramedic works for the St John medical organization.

The person on the fishing boat who prompted the evacuation attempt was also being transported to a hospital, rescuers said.

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