Search for K-Cee crew scaled back

KIMBERLEY CRAYTON-BROWN
Last updated 05:00 04/05/2012

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Police have scaled back their search for two men missing from the crayfishing boat K-Cee, after shoreline searches yesterday failed to find anything.

Southland area commander Inspector Lane Todd said the chances of finding the men were "very, very remote" and the search operation would move into a limited continuous phase, meaning searchers would stand down but the area would be monitored.

Searchers would be called back if needed, he said.

The team would continue to monitor information from the Rescue Co-ordination Centre on tidal patterns, current movements and debris already found to identify any potential actions or future searches, he said.

Te Anau police and search and rescue members based in the area would be ready to go if any new evidence was found, he said.

K-Cee skipper Bruce Gordon, 42, of Te Anau, and crew member Darren Allen, 37, of Wairio, have not been heard from since 8.15am on Monday when they left Blanket Bay to go fishing.

A search and rescue effort began about 10am on Tuesday when another boat in the area notified police that the K-Cee was overdue.

Mr Todd said a shoreline search of Secretary Island at low tide yesterday, with 10 searchers on foot, turned up no new information.

The searchers were supported by two helicopters and two boats near the Secretary Island search area at Rocky Point, where the K-Cee's bow was found on Tuesday.

It was likely that in three or four days another shoreline search would be carried out by a helicopter or fixed-wing aircraft, Mr Todd said.

On Wednesday, searchers recovered "crucial" pieces of wreckage including two wooden floorboards from the K-Cee's dinghy, the bladder from the liferaft, and emergency locator beacon.

The wreckage of the semi-submerged hull was spotted on Tuesday by Southern Lakes Helicopters, about 18 kilometres out to sea from the mouth of Nancy Sound, and 35km north from where the K-Cee is believed to have gone down in rough seas.

On Wednesday the police national dive squad arrived from Wellington to search the hull, but did not find anything new.

The hull has been secured in a sheltered area and handed over to insurance assessors, Mr Todd said last night.

The families of the men had been told of the decision to scale back the search.

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- The Southland Times

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