17 Mar 2009

Men found dead after fishing trip

7:19 pm on 17 March 2009

Police say they do not yet know what caused the death of two men who failed to return from a fishing trip at Waitarere near Levin and hope their boat may provide some clues.

The bodies of Steven Michael Militch, 55, and Billy Tane Apiata, aged 51, both of Levin, were found after a five-hour search on Tuesday.

A dive squad located the men's submerged five-metre aluminium boat using sonar equipment. It had sunk to a depth of 27 metres.

The families of Mr Militch and Mr Apiata raised the alarm when the pair did not return from the trip as expected on Monday.

The Coastguard from Kapiti, a Palmerston North search and rescue team, the Westpac rescue helicopter and two planes spent the night looking for the men.

About 2am on Tuesday, searchers on a boat saw the bow of the men's boat protruding from the water, and the bodies were discovered about an hour later.

Both men had been wearing lifejackets.