25 Sep 2008

Tourist dies after jetboat flips near Queenstown

8:15 pm on 25 September 2008

A Chinese tourist is dead after the jetboat she was in flipped on the Kawarau River near Queenstown.

The boat, operated by Kawarau Jet, overturned after hitting a sandbar about 2.45pm on Thursday. Twenty-two tourists from China and the driver were on board.

Seven people were being treated for moderate injuries at Lakes District Hospital on Thursday night. Another passenger, who is in a more serious condition, has been transferred to Invercargill Hospital.

Concern is mounting over the time it took rescuers to look underneath the jetboat where the dead woman is believed to have been trapped.

Radio New Zealand understands it was more than an hour before rescuers checked inside the boat.

Rescuers were met with an hysterical scene on the river bank as members of the Chinese group realised that the woman was missing.

An investigation by police, the Maritime Safety Authority and the Traffic Accident Investigation Commission has begun.

Kawarau Jet owners and management are helping the inquiry.