6 May 2015

Forensic scientists examine vehicle

7:03 pm on 6 May 2015

Police say it is too early to say if there is any evidence of a missing Southland boy and his stepfather inside a recovered vehicle wreck.

Forensic scientists have started examining the car, which went over a cliff in the Catlins two months ago, and was pulled from the water by a police team today.

The helicopter successfully moves the wreck onto the charter boat.

The helicopter successfully moves the wreck onto the charter boat. Photo: RNZ / Ian Telfer

John Beckenridge, left, and Mike Zhao-Beckenridge

John Beckenridge and his stepson Mike Photo: SUPPLIED

Mike Zhao-Beckenridge, 11, and his stepfather John Beckenridge, 64, disappeared from Invercargill almost two months ago.

All evidence points to John Beckenridge having driven his stepson off the cliff above Blue Cod Bay, near Curio Bay, but no bodies were seen in an initial look into the wreckage of Mr Beckenridge's four-wheel-drive.

After waiting six weeks, police divers had a brief window of calm ocean to try to attach flotation bags to the wreck and a helicopter lifted the car from the water this afternoon.

Detective Senior Sergeant Mike Bowman said it was a great relief to have successfully recovered the vehicle, but it was too early to say what, if anything, is inside.

He said scientists were looking for evidence that bodies were in the car when it went over the cliff.

"I think the tide will have caused a fair bit of damage to the interior of the vehicle, it's just really having a look at what's still left inside and what does that tell us."

He said he expected results within a few days.

Helicopter used to remove vehicle

Radio New Zealand reporter Ian Telfer, who was at the scene today, said a chartered boat, Awesome, arrived at Blue Cod Bay to begin the operation just before 9am.

A police team at a remote cove in Southland are using a helicopter to lift a vehicle linked to a missing 11-year-old out of the sea.

The helicopter and wreck (with buoy) Photo: RNZ / Ian Telfer

A few minutes later, a red Zodiac-type speedboat ferried three divers close to the rocky shore and they dived in.

One diver held a round orange buoy tied to a rope while another submerged for minutes at a time.

The divers left the water before midday then returned with a long pink buoy, which they appeared to attach to the underwater wreck.

Sergeant Dave Kennelly, who was part of the police team at the bay, said they had trouble attaching pull ropes to the wreck because of its degraded state, so used the helicopter to move it.

The helicopter took two attempts to lift the vehicle out of the water.

It then set it down, partially-submerged and upside-down, closer to the rocky shore.

Police divers then attached black floats to the vehicle in preparation for it to be towed off the rocks.

The wrecked vehicle appears to be not much more than a battered chassis and it is unclear if bodies could have been trapped beneath it or in it.

A chartered boat arrived at Blue Cod Bay to begin the operation just before 9am.

A chartered boat arrived at Blue Cod Bay to begin the operation just before 9am. Photo: RNZ / Ian Telfer

Police divers trying  to recover the wrecked vehicle at the centre of a search for a missing boy.

Three police divers entered the water at the start of the operation to recover the wreck at Blue Cod Bay. Photo: RNZ / Ian Telfer

Police divers can be seen on the rocks near the site of the underwater wreck.

The divers climbed onto rocks near the site of the wreck before returning to the water before midday. Photo: RNZ / Ian Telfer

Police attach black floats to the car wreck in preparation for its removal from the bay.

Police attach black floats to the car wreck in preparation for its removal from the bay. Photo: RNZ / Ian Telfer

A police team at a remote cove in Southland are now considering using a helicopter to lift a vehicle linked to a missing 11-year-old out of the sea.

Police survey the recovery operation from the top of the cliff. Photo: RNZ / Ian Telfer

Two posts mark the spot where police believe the car went off the cliffs above Blue Cod Bay, near Curio Bay in the Catlins.

Two posts mark the spot where police believe the car went off the cliffs. Photo: RNZ / Ian Telfer

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