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Children among missing after fishing boat sinks in New Zealand

(Xinhua)

11:05, March 16, 2012

WELLINGTON, March 16 (Xinhua) -- At least two children are reported to be among the seven people still missing after a fishing boat capsized off the bottom of New Zealand's South Island two days ago, Radio New Zealand reported Friday.

One man was pulled alive from the Foveaux Strait the stretch of water between the South Island and Stewart Island at about 6 p.m. Thursday and the body of a 30-year-old man had been recovered since.

A navy aircraft had joined a fleet of local vessels and helicopters in the search for the remaining seven people in the boat, which was capsized by a freak wave about midnight Wednesday.

The survivor was said to be suffering from hypothermia when he was found clinging to a petrol can 18 hours after the boat sank.

The survivor told Invercargill police a rogue wave struck the " Easy Rider" capsizing it almost immediately. He said he clung to the hull for two hours before the boat sank, then stayed afloat by holding on to a petrol can, said the report.

The man said he and two others were on the deck when the wave hit. Six other people were in the boat's wheelhouse.

The Easy Rider had left the South Island port of Bluff for the Muttonbird Islands with three crew and six passengers about 7.30 p. m. on Wednesday.

The alarm was raised at about 5 p.m. on Thursday when the fishing boat failed to meet with a helicopter at Stewart Island in the afternoon, Radio New Zealand reported.

Two Maritime Safety investigators and a three-member investigation team from the Transport Accident Investigation Commission would be arriving at the scene on Friday.

The Foveaux Strait claimed the lives of six people, including two 9-year-old boys, in May 2006 when their fishing trawler sank in rough seas.

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