Five dead in boat capsize were bird enthusiasts

A boat carrying 11 people capsized in Goose Bay, near Kaikoura, killing

Five people were killed when a boat with 11 people on board capsized in Goose Bay in Kaikoura today.

Police described it as an unprecedented and tragic incident.

They said the 8.5m boat capsized shortly after 10am this morning. Six people were captured alive, they said.

Staff from the police diving team have recovered the body.

Police are currently going through a formal identification process.

Sergeant Matt Boyce said it was an “unprecedented incident” and a tragedy and police were supporting those involved.

Police said the boat appeared to have collided with something, but could not comment on whether a whale was involved. Earlier in the day, Kaikoura Mayor Craig Michael said he believed the boat hit the whale.

When asked if the boat hitting the whale was a viable theory, police said they were talking to a number of people to understand what happened.

The whales are resident and have been seen in the area, Mackle said. Sea conditions were “perfect and flat” at the time, he said.

The passengers are believed to be members of a group of bird lovers who have hired a charter boat to tour areas of interest.

They are believed to come from all over New Zealand.

Police could not say who was operating the charter flight. The captain went to hospital, but police believe he was uninjured.

The survivors have all been taken to hospital, but all have been discharged. One person was slightly injured.

Michael said it was a tragic event that affected many lives.

He thanked everyone involved in recovery.

In such a tragic situation, being able to bring everyone home “was the best outcome”.

“There’s nothing worse for a family to have the deceased back with their family, it’s special to them,” police said.

Everyone who may be involved is helping wherever they can.

When asked if the boat was overloaded, Michael said he couldn’t answer.

The body of the deceased was found on the boat.

The Coast Guard called it a “tragic operation.”

“Our thoughts go out to the friends and family of the deceased,” the Coast Guard said.

Maritime New Zealand chief investigator Tracy Phillips said the group had sent two investigators from Christchurch to Kaikoura.

“Any investigative activity will not begin until the rescue/recovery operation is complete. We will conduct a thorough investigation under the Work Health and Safety Act and the Maritime Transport Act and we will do everything we can to support the New Zealand Police’s investigation.”

Michael earlier said he felt sick as the incident unfolded.

Richard Hill of Cods and Crays Fish and Chips told RNZ he had previously worked with the captain on the ship.

“He’s a very safe guy, he couldn’t possibly take any risks. So I would think, must be some kind of freak of nature. It’s been a very sad day for Kaikoura, really just a shock ,” Hill said.

Kaikoura councillor Lisa Bond said the incident was “incredibly heartbreaking”.

The South Bay slipway was closed to the public when police responded.

Photo by Goose Bay  Five dead in boat capsize were bird enthusiasts
Photo by Goose Bay

A reporter on the shore of Goose Bay said at 1:45 p.m. he could see three boats, two of which appeared to be Coast Guard vessels, and four helicopters near the capsized boat.

The two helicopters in the air appear to be Western Pacific Rescue Helicopters.

A spokesman for St John said they had been notified of an incident in Goose Bay later this morning.

The spokesman said police were responsible for dealing with emergencies.

An image on social media showed many people waiting to be rescued on the overturned boat.

People on top of a boat during a rescue  Five dead in boat capsize were bird enthusiasts
People on top of a boat during a rescue

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