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Eight missing as fishing boat sinks

Eight people are feared dead after a fishing boat sank off New Zealand's coast.

Crews have rescued one survivor and found one body, but poor sea conditions and a long delay before authorities were alerted had police describing the situation as "bleak".

Police say the Easy Rider was carrying three crew members and six passengers when it capsized near remote Stewart Island yesterday. One survivor was found about 18 hours later in the frigid sea, clinging to a barrel.

He told police he was on deck when the boat was hit by a rogue wave, causing it to capsize almost immediately. He managed to cling to the overturned boat's hull for about two hours before it sank.

Police said they had retrieved the body of a 30-year-old man near where the boat sank and that several vessels and helicopters were continuing to search the area.

It took around 14 hours before authorities knew the boat was missing. The boat was supposed to meet a helicopter yesterday and when it did not arrive, the helicopter pilot was the first person to raise the alarm.

New Zealand media reported that the boat was taking an extended family to a remote island so they could hunt for mutton birds, considered a local delicacy, and that two children were among the missing.

Just two months ago, the captain of the Easy Rider, Rewai Karetai, was hailed a hero when he helped rescue three people from another fishing boat which capsized in the area. Two people died in that accident.

Mr Karetai is reported as among those missing in the latest incident.

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