Hopes fade of finding boy lost at sea alive

Last updated 14:10 19/01/2013
DANIEL GALVIN/Fairfax NZ

A 11-year-old boy is missing at sea after the boat he was in capsized and he drifted away from his family.

Boat capsizes in Hauraki Gulf
GRAHAME COX/Fairfax NZ Zoom
Maritime police bring the family's boat Ocean's One ashore in Auckland.

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A navy and police team is scouring the sea bed in the Hauraki Gulf in the search for a 11-year-old boy who has been lost at sea for three days.

The teenager went missing after the boat he and three family members were in capsized. The four metre runabout flipped near Kawakawa Bay within an hour of launching at 11am on Thursday.

This morning, the Royal New Zealand Navy stepped in to help police and the coastguard in the search. But police said the operation had moved from a rescue to a body recovery mission.

The navy has provided police with a Remis - a torpedo-type device that is programmed to swim unattended along the sea bed - which is currently in the water alongside a police boat.

It would scan the area in 3D and take photographs, which the police would use to see if the body was on lying on the sea bed and pinpoint its location.

Scanning the seabed and downloading the information collected could take up to five hours.

Yesterday's search efforts were called off about 3pm due to the weather.

Three men, all from the same family from Papakura, were rescued yesterday after a yacht came upon the upturned boat - named Ocean's One - near Ponui Island just before 9am.

By that time the trio had spent more than 20 hours in the water.

Inspector Shawn Rutene said the men had huddled together in the dark clinging to the boat.

It was not known when the 11-year-old drifted away. A coastguard spokeswoman said he was wearing a hoodie and long pants.

Two of the trio were found clinging to the overturned boat and one was found floating nearby. The yacht rescued one of the survivors while the Westpac rescue helicopter winched the second aboard.

The third person was spotted by the police Eagle helicopter and a crew member jumped into the sea with a floatation device to rescue him. Both were then recovered by the police launch Deodar.

None of the survivors were wearing lifejackets when they were found. There were two life jackets onboard when it was towed ashore.

Two of those rescued are in Auckland City Hospital while the third, a 21-year-old, arrived at the Auckland Marine Rescue Centre, in Mechanics Bay, about 1pm on the police launch Deodar.

He was seen briefly by paramedics then emerged wrapped in survival blankets and was placed into a waiting ambulance.

He was hypothermic and shaken but was able to help police with their search for the missing boy.

Coastguard operations manager Ray Burge said there were probably too many people in the boat given its small size. He said the men should have checked the weather and taken better safety precautions.

* This story has been corrected. Police incorrectly stated the missing boy's age as being 13.

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