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One still missing after NZ boat disaster

Rescuers and police divers are continuing the search for one person still missing after a chartered boat that was carrying 10 people broke apart in stormy seas off New Zealand.

Five people were rescued after clinging to different sections of the overturned wreckage for hours on Sunday evening, and four bodies were also recovered.

The 17-metre boat Enchanter had left the northern port of Mangonui on Thursday with two crew and eight passengers aboard for a planned five-day fishing trip to the remote Three Kings Islands.

Its emergency beacon was activated at 8pm on Sunday off North Cape, but thunderstorms and dangerous flying conditions delayed the response, with the first helicopter not reaching the wreckage until nearly midnight.

News outlet RNZ identified one of those who died as Mark Sanders, a 43-year-old builder and father to three children.

Sanders’ father Graeme told RNZ his son was a talented sportsman and keen fisherman who had been looking forward to the fishing trip for two years.

Graeme Sanders said his son told him he might have to cut the trip short because of the weather.

“He was worried about the forecast for the last day or so that he was fishing,” Sanders told RNZ.

“He told me that before he went – ‘The forecast doesn’t look good, we might have to come back early.'”

Two bodies were recovered by helicopter and two more by search boats on Monday, police said. The five people who were rescued were admitted to Kaitaia Hospital and later discharged.

Luis Fernandes, a meteorologist with New Zealand’s weather agency MetService, said gale-force winds had whipped up rough seas around North Cape at the time the alarm was raised.

The captain of the Enchanter, who reportedly survived the accident, could not be reached on Tuesday.

Rescuers said three boats, two helicopters and one plane were continuing the search for the missing person on Tuesday in marginal conditions.

Police divers were also checking the wreckage of the Enchanter.

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