Five people die after boat capsized in New Zealand’s Kaikoura, with reports of it being hit by a whale
Tragedy: Five people die after a boat carrying 11 bird watchers capsized when it was ‘hit by a whale’ in New Zealand
- Five people died after boat reportedly flipped over by whale in calm NZ waters
- The boat had 11 people on board and was at the time in Goose Bay, near Kaikoura
- The six others on board have been rescued and released from hospital
Five people have died after a whale reportedly overturned its boat in icy waters during a seabird-watching tour in New Zealand.
The tragic accident happened Saturday morning in Goose Bay, near Kaikoura, on the east coast of the country’s South Island.
A group of 11 women over the age of 50 were reportedly on a birdwatching trip when the 8.5-meter charter boat capsized at about 10 a.m. local time.
The other six passengers on board, including the skipper, were rescued and released from hospital after being examined. One sustained minor injuries.
Authorities have yet to confirm what caused the boat to capsize, but said there was a collision. Humpback and sperm whales are known to frequent the area.
Five people have died on a seabird-spotting trip after a whale reportedly flipped their boat in icy waters near Kaikoura, New Zealand
Poignant photos show a passenger sitting atop the upturned boat while waiting to be rescued
The other six passengers on board, including the skipper, were rescued and released from hospital after being checked
A New Zealand Police diving team arrived at the scene at about 2pm on Saturday as the bodies were removed from the 10C water and taken to shore.
The boat was also towed in.
Poignant photos show a passenger sitting atop the upturned boat as he waits to be rescued.
Half of the passengers managed to clamber onto the inverted hull of the ship where they waited for help
“This is an unprecedented event that has happened,” said Kaikōura Police Sergeant Matt Boyce.
NZ Coastguard, Maritime New Zealand and Fire and Emergency NZ, tour operators including Dolphin Encounter Kaikōura, and a handful of local fishermen were involved in rescuing the victims.
Two Westpac Rescue helicopters were also called to the scene.
Kaikōura Mayor Craig Mackle collapsed during a press conference, describing the tragedy as “a terrible circumstance” and adding that conditions were “really, really” good.
“This is a tragic event that touches many lives, especially family and loved ones,” Mackle said.
“Out of sincere sadness and condolences to all of you.”
The New Zealand Coast Guard released a statement saying that volunteers worked all day to ‘bring everyone involved home’.
“Coastguard would like to express our sincere condolences to the whānau of the five people who lost their lives today when the boat they were on capsized off Goose Bay in Kaikōura.”
Water conditions are known to have been good with little swell at the time of the accident
He said that ‘being able to bring everyone home’ was the best one could hope for.
“It’s a small town and we did what we could.”
Kaikoura District Councilor Lisa Bond called the tragedy “incredibly heartbreaking.”
The waters off Kaikoura are known for their whale movements, but no one had ever heard of a boat ever being hit.
It is clear that the water conditions were fine with little swell and nothing to indicate danger except the known presence of humpback and sperm whales offshore.
An investigation into the incident will be launched.
Obviously the boat belonged to a local fishing charter company.