Paritutu body identified tomorrow
Sun, 19 Aug 2012 6:03p.m.
By Jane Luscombe
The families of three people missing in the sea off New Plymouth must wait until tomorrow to learn the identity of a body discovered near Paritutu Rock.
Police are confident it's one of the three rock climbers, and say there's now a stronger likelihood they'll find the others.
Police and volunteers have looked at the site several times before. Today they returned with renewed vigour.
The search for the missing rock climbers had been suspended, but local people never gave up hope.
First light brought relief for one family, though which one isn't yet known.
A Contact Energy worker arriving for work at 7am paused to check over the sea wall near the power station and spotted something floating in the water.
“We believe it's highly likely it's one of the people we are looking for,” says Sergeant Andrew Ross, search and rescue co-ordinator. “They were recovered with a climbing helmet still attached.”
The discovery was made in the power station's water intake area.
Police used surf boats to reach the body, which was taken to Taranaki Base Hospital for identification.
“It's actually not very far at all from where they got into the sea and that area has been scoured day after day after day both in the air, IRBs and staff on foot.”
All three families have been informed, but they won't know who it is until tomorrow at the earliest.
Then for two families, the wait will go on.
But, after 11 days without success, the searchers are feeling optimistic
“It's heartening that one has come up though,” says Mr Ross. “That gives me hope that the other two may as well, and hopefully for the families as well. It's obviously going to be a difficult day for them.”
Conditions in the area since the three were swept away, with large waves and frequent rain, have meant this job was never going to be easy.
But at last the sea has returned one of the missing.
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