Searchers have found a fourth body after a boat capsized near New Zealand’s Stewart Island with nine people, including a seven-year-old, on board.
Only one person, Dallas Tumoana Reedy, 44, of Invercargill, has been rescued since the Foveaux Strait disaster early on Thursday morning and police believe it’s unlikely anyone else has survived.
A navy vessel found the wreckage of the Easy Rider – a 12-metre fishing boat – about 2km from the shore and 40m deep.
The body of an adult was found about 4pm (2pm AEDT) on Friday north of the wreckage, Bluff Coastguard president Andy Johnson told AAP.
Debris was coming away from the wreckage and it was possible the man’s body had come free from the wreckage, he said.
The search was being wound up on Friday night, though a boat would monitor the wreckage overnight, he said.
The wreckage was too deep for normal divers, so specialist divers were being brought in to search the vessel, Mr Johnson said.
“There’s definitely … a concerted effort to recover all the bodies.”
Searchers recovered the bodies of two males on Friday afternoon and a third about 8pm local time on Thursday.
Southland police area commander Inspector Lane Todd said police and navy divers were expected to arrive about 7pm (5pm AEDT) on Friday, when police would assess the next steps and how the search would proceed on Saturday.
About 60 people and 12 boats, including police, navy, coastguard and volunteers, had been searching the ocean and the coastline.
A civilian boat had taken a photo of the wreckage, which matched the description of the Easy Rider, Insp Todd said.
Mr Reedy had told police he was the only person to get off the boat after it was struck by a rogue wave, soon after midnight.
He hung on to the upturned hull for about an hour and a half, until it sank. He then clung to a plastic barrel for almost 18 hours before he was rescued from the sea.
The others aboard were Rewai Karetai, 47; Shane Ronald Topi, 29; Paul Jason Fowler-Karetai, 40; Odin Karetai, seven; Boe Taikawa Gillies, 28; John Henry Karetai, 58; Peter Glen Pekamu-Bloxham, 53; and David George Fowler, 50.