Beacon leads rescuers to trampers

11 May 2007

A search and rescue operation launched by Rescue Coordination Centre New Zealand (RCCNZ) has successfully located two trampers in the Arthur’s Pass area after picking up their emergency beacon signal yesterday afternoon.

It is unknown at this stage if there are any others in the group, or their status.  RCCNZ has received no reports of anyone overdue or missing in the area. The pair’s condition is also unknown. The Greymouth-based Solid Energy Rescue helicopter located the pair waving a piece of yellow fabric near Cascade Rock in the Campbell Pass area of Arthur’s Pass National Park at around 9.45am today, after picking up the distress beacon and homing in. However, continuing poor weather means they cannot be winched out at this stage. A ground-based search and rescue team will now attempt to make their way to the group on foot.

A fast-moving bad weather front expected to pass through the area around midday, further hampering air rescue efforts.

RCCNZ Search and Rescue Mission Coordinator Dave Wilson said the incident highlighted the importance of trampers carrying personal locator beacons, which had greatly assisted in finding the pair.

The group’s emergency beacon was picked up by RCCNZ around 2.30pm yesterday, and a search was immediately launched. However, bad weather restricted initial efforts by the Christchurch-based Westpac Rescue helicopter to accurately locate the source.

The land-based search is being coordinated in conjunction with the Department of Conservation’s field office in Arthur’s Pass township. Local police are also supporting the operation.

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