28 May 2024

Body found in search for man missing from Wellington ferry

1:45 pm on 28 May 2024
Police continue their search for an unnamed man who went missing from a ferry on the 24th of May

Police searched for the unnamed man on Monday. Photo: RNZ / Angus Dreaver

A body has been found in the search for a man missing from a Wellington ferry.

Police say the body was found by the diving squad with help from the navy on Monday night.

Formal identification had not yet been carried out.

The missing Wellington man was the only passenger aboard the East By West ferry, travelling towards Days Bay, Eastbourne from Queens Wharf just after 6am on Friday.

He was no longer on the vessel when it reached the dock, prompting a large-scale, multi-day search by more than a dozen boats and helicopters.

Police identified the missing man on Monday but did not release any details.

Search and Rescue are are working their way along Wellingtons east coast

Photo: RNZ / Angus Dreaver

East by West Ferries general manager Mat Jonsson acknowledged the death in a statement.

"With sadness, we acknowledge the passing of the passenger missing from our Friday morning service on 26 May. Our thoughts will continue to be with the passenger and his family and friends, as they come to terms with their loss," he said in a statement.

Jonsson thanks authorities, commercial operators and private vessels who had joined in the search for several hours.

"This quickly became an 'all hands' response, and we thank our counterparts for stepping forward to assist."

East By West would continue to fully co-operate with the police investigation and would complete a detailed review of the incident over the next few weeks, he said.

A rāhui has been placed over the inner harbour by local iwi Te Āti Awa until 6am Thursday.

"The iwi request that kaimoana is not taken from the inner harbour out of respect for the whānau pani (grieving family) as they face the challenge ahead of them," police said.

Police said they were still investigating.

The Metlink-run route resumed normal services on Saturday. Metlink group manager Samantha Gain said her thoughts were with the passenger's family and staff at the ferry company.

Wellington Harbourmaster Grant Nalder told RNZ such an incident had happened in the past but it was "infrequent".

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