2 Mar 2011

Search for Norwegian yacht suspended

6:49 am on 2 March 2011

Maritime New Zealand has suspended the search for a Norwegian yacht missing in the Southern Ocean.

Three men are presumed dead after the yacht Beserk entered Antarctic waters without authorisation to drop two expedition members on the ice for a quad-bike attempt to reach the South Pole.

Norwegians Jarle Andhoy, 33, and Samuel Massie, 18, abandoned their pole quest after finding out the yacht - their support vessel - had vanished in a storm.

Nigel Clifford of Maritime New Zealand says that, given the extreme weather conditions and near-freezing temperatures in the Ross Sea, the search has gone beyond the point where anyone could be found alive.

Mr Clifford says 25,000 square kilometres have been searched by three vessels; the Steve Irwin, the expedition vessel Spirit of Enderby and HMNZS Wellington.

He says the decision to suspend the week-long search has not been taken lightly and the search could be reopened if any new information comes to light.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has asked Norway to investigate.