Whale Collision Blamed in Fatal Boat Accident

5 people are dead in New Zealand
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Sep 10, 2022 6:40 AM CDT
Whale Collision Blamed in Fatal Boat Accident
Stock photo of Kaikoura.   (Getty Images / 7Michael)

Five people died Saturday in New Zealand after the small charter boat they were aboard capsized in what is believed to have been a rare collision with a whale. Another six people aboard the boat were rescued. Police said the 28-foot boat overturned near the South Island town of Kaikoura, per the AP. Kaikoura Mayor Craig Mackle said the water was calm at the time of the accident, and the assumption is that a whale had surfaced from beneath the boat. He said sperm whales and humpback whales were traveling through.

Kaikoura Police Sergeant Matt Boyce described it as a devastating and unprecedented event. “Our thoughts are with everyone involved, including the victims and their families, their local communities, and emergency services personnel,” Boyce said. He said divers had recovered the bodies of all those who had died, and the police investigation is ongoing. All six survivors were in stable condition at a local health center, with one transferred to a hospital in the city of Christchurch as a precaution.

Mackle said the boat was a charter vessel typically used for fishing excursions, and news agency Stuff reported the passengers belonged to a bird enthusiasts' group. Kaikoura 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. Compliance agency Maritime New Zealand said it sent two investigators to the scene and would be conducting a thorough investigation once recovery operations had concluded. (Read more New Zealand stories.)

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