WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — Two people are reportedly dead and three more missing after a boat in New Zealand collided with a whale and capsized.
News organization Stuff reported that 11 people were aboard the boat and six were rescued Saturday morning near the South Island town of Kaikōura.
Kaikōura Mayor Craig Mackle told Stuff there was a “sick feeling” among those waiting for more news.
Police said in a statement they were responding to an incident in which a boat had reportedly capsized and they had closed off a boat ramp from public use, but they did not immediately provide further details.
Vanessa Chapman told Stuff she and a group of friends had watched the rescue efforts unfold from Goose Bay, near Kaikōura. She said that when she arrived at a lookout spot, she could see a person sitting atop an overturned boat waving their arms.
She said two rescue helicopters and a third local helicopter were circling before two divers jumped out. She told Stuff that the person atop the boat was rescued and a second person appeared to have been pulled from the water.
Kaikōura is a popular whale-watching destination. The seafloor drops away precipitously from the coast, making for deep waters close to the shore. A number of businesses offer boat trips or helicopter rides so tourists can see whales, dolphins and other sea creatures up close.
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