An investigation into the Manukau Port tragedy has been launched; The man among the victims in the 70s

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Three people died in a boat tragedy in Manukau Harbor yesterday afternoon. Photograph / Hayden Woodward

The Transport Accident Investigation Commission (TAIC) has launched an investigation into a boating accident that killed three people in Auckland’s Manukau Harbor yesterday.

A team aims to salvage the wreck of the boat and review videos or photos of the incident.

A 23-year-old man was airlifted to Auckland Hospital and three bodies were found after a boat overturned near the notorious dangerous Manukau Heads bar. yesterday afternoon.

Police said the three victims were men aged 54, 61 and 70. The fourth man’s condition is moderate.

Police said they are continuing to work with Maritime New Zealand to “understand the circumstances that led to the deaths” and are investigating on behalf of the coroner.

TAIC addresses witnesses who saw, photographed or videotaped the boat accident. It was learned that other boats found three people dead in the water and rescued the fourth.

“Getting the facts right is vital, so we want to hear from anyone who saw the accident or observed the boat at any point in its voyage as soon as possible,” said Harald Hendel, Chief Accidents Inspector.

“The details of the boat involved are unknown at this stage and witness statements at this point can be helpful, especially if you have photos or videos of them.”

A special team will leave for Auckland tomorrow to investigate. They want to interview witnesses and see any photos or videos of the incident. Investigators will also try to salvage any debris.

“We’re interested in what people, especially survivors, have to say, but also what family and friends of the crew know about their trip plans,” Hendel said.

“We would like to learn more about the boat, its individual and type history, performance, maintenance, equipment and design.”

Witnesses can email TAIC at info@taic.org.nz.

Yesterday at around 16.40, it was reported to the emergency room that a boat with four people on board capsized.  Photograph / Hayden Woodward
Yesterday at around 16.40, it was reported to the emergency room that a boat with four people on board capsized. Photograph / Hayden Woodward

A local man, who saw the rescue operation unfold 100 meters from his boat, said the capsized ship was “in the worst place in the port” and was pleased that an investigation was being launched.

“Some of the larger boats already moored in Huia came out and [first responders] help,” he said.

He followed a larger boat as he carried the bodies back to shore and said emergency services had performed CPR but pronounced dead.

The man, who the Herald agreed not to be named, said he helped clear life jackets and other debris from the boat.

He said it was gloomy at the beach.

He was among the more than 200 boats that successfully passed the Manukau bar that day.

“If you were going to pick a place where an accident would happen, it would be in that bar that day.

“There would be 100 more [boats] This radio didn’t.”

The deaths have been described by the Coast Guard as the greatest tragedy in this body of water in many years.

Chief executive Callum Gillespie is urging Auckland boats to be prepared, as hundreds of ships were seen in the waters yesterday—numbers matching peak summer levels.

Five people died in Manukau Harbor last week. A diver and canoeist have also died in Auckland since warning level restrictions that allow residents to participate in water sports were eased.

“Three deaths in a single incident is one of the worst tragedies in Manukau Harbor in recent years,” Gillespie said.

Coast guard teams from Papakura and Waiuku were deployed and “unsuccessfully” searched for the overturned boat.

Police notified the Coast Guard yesterday that a boat capsized near Manukau Heads.  Photograph / Hayden Woodward
Police notified the Coast Guard yesterday that a boat capsized near Manukau Heads. Photograph / Hayden Woodward

Gillespie said the boat involved did not file a bar crossing report with the Coast Guard, but they received more than 200 bar crossing reports from the Port of Manukau alone yesterday.

He said it was the Coast Guard’s own “Super Saturday,” with over 1,700 trip reports and 29 incidents.

“It’s a big day for summer, never mind October.”

Most events, such as dead batteries, people running out of fuel, and mechanical failures, were not life-threatening.

But they showed that many of them were not ready to go to sea.

“Understandably, people have been locked in winter during this lockdown period, and their eagerness to get out unfortunately doesn’t compare to preparedness,” Gillespie said.

He urged boats to remember to check weather conditions, wear life jackets and two types of communications, and put up a trip report or bar crossing report with the Coast Guard.

“Whether you’re diving or kayaking or on a boat, it’s about making sure your equipment is good and well-controlled and doesn’t rust or become ineffective over the winter.

“If you leave your fuel in your engine over the winter, don’t be surprised if it doesn’t start.”

Five people have died since Kovid restrictions were eased in Auckland's Port of Manukau.  Photograph / Hayden Woodward
Five people have died since Kovid restrictions were eased in Auckland’s Port of Manukau. Photograph / Hayden Woodward

“Wear life jackets because it’s too late to put on life jackets in the water.”

The Coast Guard is gearing up for a new summer season, with New Zealand’s borders closed.

Gillespie said boat trailer manufacturers are already “feeling off their feet”.

“I think we will see a repeat of last year. It will be very intense.

“We are preparing for this, and we ask that Kiwi boots do their part by preparing for it.”

The Manukau bar is very dangerous and has spawned a number of rescues, including two earlier this year.

boats plan your trips here.

Safety tips for passing Manukau Bar

• Always check for swell, tide and wind conditions – every pass of the Manukau Bar is different because of these factors.

• Always try to pass the bar during daylight hours.

• Make sure everyone on board is wearing life jackets and is alert.

• It’s best to cross at high tide (but always consider weather and swell).

• Be sure to carry two forms of communication that work even when wet.

• Register a bar crossing report with the Coast Guard by calling *500 from your mobile phone or contacting the Coast Guard radio on your VHF. Once you pass the bar, close your bar pass report safely.

• If in doubt, do not go out!

Source: Coast Guard

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