Five people died when a boat crashed off the coast New Zealand’s Coast after it was believed to have been overturned by a whale.
The incident occurred Saturday near Kaikoura on the South Island. Six people were able to survive.
According to Kaikoura police sergeant Matt Boyce, their condition is stable. Five were evaluated at a local hospital and six were transferred to Christchurch Hospital as a precaution.
He said, “Our thoughts and prayers are with all those involved, including the victims, their families, and their local communities and emergency service personnel.”
Craig Mackle, the mayor of the town, told reporters that waters were calm at that time and that it was possible for a whale to have surfaced beneath the boat.
He said that sperm and humpbacks whales frequent the area.
He stated that he thought of the possibility of a boat colliding with a whale in the past due to the large number of whales found in the area.
Mackle stated, “It always plays in your mind that it might happen.”
Three helicopters were involved in rescue operations to save survivors, and police divers recovered the bodies.
Kaikoura is a popular spot for whale-watching. The sea floor drops rapidly off the coast and the deep waters attract whales.
Many companies offer helicopter or boat trips to see whales.
Mackle stated that the boat looked like a charter vessel for bird watchers.