Orion ends search for Kiwi missing overboard

 Friday Nov 5, 2010

An RNZAF Orion has been taken off the search for a New Zealander lost overboard in the Pacific Ocean.

The man was lost from yacht Wild Goose about 150 nautical miles off the coast of Rarotonga at about 2pm yesterday.

Crew members made an unsuccessful attempt to rescue him before calling in a distress signal to the Rescue Coordination Centre New Zealand at 4pm.

The RNZAF Orion arrived on scene after dark yesterday and spent the night in Rarotonga.

It continued the search this morning but found no sign of the man.

Search and Rescue Mission Coordinator Kevin Banaghan said the missing man had now been in the water for more than 20 hours.

While the water temperature in the area was relatively warm at around 23 degrees Celsius, Mr Banaghan said the man's chance of surviving beyond 12 hours was significantly reduced.

A French Naval aircraft will to help the search until it returns to Papeete, French Polynesia this afternoon.

Container vessel Forum Pacific will also search the area until mid afternoon.

Remaining crew members from Wild Goose have continued to look for the missing man.

The 14m yacht left Rarotonga on November 3 on its way to Opua, Northland.