Search cancelled after reports of capsize

SAM BOYER
Last updated 17:43 24/11/2012

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About 10 boats and a rescue helicopter scoured Wellington harbour this afternoon following a report of a capsized dinghy 500m from shore.

Maritime police and Coastguard search boats responded at 3.50pm, but the search was called off just after 5pm when nothing was discovered.

The search was sparked after a passer-by, driving on State Highway 2 between Petone and Wellington, called the police.

The man said he had seen a capsized 5-metre dinghy off-shore, but had been unable to stop to confirm its location.

Police said the man was certain he had seen the dinghy.

It was believed to have been spotted between Somes Island and the motorway, about 500-600m from shore.

Senior police launch master Barry Hart said boat crews scanned the water with the chopper in the air and a land crew was organised to check the shore line.

Hart said the response from the public had been good, with about 8 boats joining the search.

He said he hoped the caller had been mistaken.

''He's quite adamant that what he saw was a vessel. But I'm hopeful that the mistake was the vessel wasn't actually capsized.

''We've suspended the search. Nothing has been located: no vessel, no debris, no nothing.''

He added that he was grateful the man had phoned in his report, even if this case had turned up nothing.

''We'd rather have a thousand false alarms than have someone in difficulty and no-one call.''

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- The Dominion Post

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