Searchers fail to find fisherman lost overboard

Last updated 09:02 07/01/2014

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Little hope remains for a Wellington man knocked overboard in rough waters without a lifejacket.

Police will resume their search of Wellington Harbour today but are now looking for a body.

Two men went out on the swollen Hutt River in a dinghy on Sunday afternoon, police said.

Conditions were rough, with high winds and muddy water. Neither man was wearing a lifejacket.

They were going to check fishing nets when they were thrown overboard near the rivermouth.

One managed to get back in the boat and return to shore, but the second man, 49, was swept out to sea.

He was reported lost about 5pm off Port Rd near Seaview.

No trace of him has been seen since despite an extensive police search.

Senior Constable Craig Pickering, of the Wellington Maritime Unit, said: "There is not a lot of hope at this stage that we will find him alive. Our hearts go out to the family, it is a tough time."

Poor water visibility from the river outflow had hampered the search and prevented the dive squad from being deployed.

The police launch Lady Elizabeth continues to search the harbour this morning.

Senior Constable Dave Martin said they would continue to search from the Hutt River mouth to Pencarrow Head for the next few mornings.

A heavy weather system moving in this afternoon would make searching difficult, Martin said.

Pickering said the tragedy highlighted the importance of lifejackets.

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- The Dominion Post

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