Air search for beacon to continue

12 October 2007, 8.00am

An aerial search for the source of an emergency locator beacon detected in the Hollyford Valley yesterday is continuing this morning.

Rescue Coordination Centre New Zealand (RCCNZ) is coordinating the search for the source of the beacon, which was detected near the Hollyford Track about 1pm yesterday.¬†Search and rescue helicopters from Te Anau and Dunedin spent yesterday afternoon and evening searching for the beacon’s source, one using night vision gear and the other beacon direction finding equipment, without success. The helicopters conducted both high and low level searches along an approximately 10km stretch of the track between Sunshine Hut and Pyke Lodge, and about 5 km either side of it. The search area is located about 20km north east of Milford Sound.

Search and rescue trained helicopter crews also yesterday checked tramping huts in the area and combed part of the track and the surrounding area where the beacon signal was strongest, but without success.  The sporadic nature of the signal has made it difficult to pinpoint the exact source of the beacon.

Meanwhile Te Anau Police, who are helping to coordinate the search, have put plans to launch a land-based search and rescue team this morning on hold, while a search and rescue helicopter with direction-finding equipment again attempts to pinpoint the exact location of the beacon. They are also satisfied with yesterday’s ground search of the area.

Aircraft operating in the Fiordland area have also been asked to keep an ear out for the beacon signal.

It is not yet known who or what may have activated the beacon, though inquiries are continuing through the Department of Conservation in a bid to determine if anyone might be overdue in the area.

A further update will be provided as and when any new information comes to light.

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