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Rescues Highlight Value of Beacons

The rescue of eight trampers in four separate incidents in two days in New Zealand highlights the value of personal locator beacons.

Today three people were rescued from beside the Wanganui River, near Harihari on the West Coast, after being stranded by flood waters.

They activated their personal locator beacon at 4pm and the Rescue Coordination Centre New Zealand (RCCNZ) dispatched the Westpac rescue helicopter from Christchurch to pick up the party.

Two of the party were suffering from frostbite and the third from suspected hyperthermia and had managed to reach Hunter’s Hut at the confluence of the Wanganui and Adams rivers. They were flown to Hokitika hospital at around 5.30pm.

A solo woman tramper with a ruptured Achilles tendon tramping the Wangapeka Track on the Karamea River activated her beacon just before 5pm and was picked up by the Nelson rescue helicopter at 6.45pm and taken to Nelson hospital.

She was the fifth person rescued after activating a beacon on the Wangapeka Track. Yesterday a party of three and a solo tramper were also rescued from the track after activating their own beacons.

“These incidents really show the value of personal locator beacons,” RCCNZ search and rescue coordinator Chris Henshaw said.

“Without beacons, these people would have been waiting a long time in uncomfortable conditions to be rescued.”

Maritime New Zealand Media Line – 4th January

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