24 Jan 2012

Three rescued from sinking ship off Tauranga

11:14 pm on 24 January 2012

Three people have been rescued from a sinking fishing boat off the coast of Tauranga.

Maritime New Zealand says it picked up the distress beacon at midday on Tuesday for the 18-metre longliner Rebecca May when it was about 90km out to sea.

An aircraft flyover spotted smoke from a distress flare and another fishing boat picked up the crew from a life raft about 1.30pm.

Search and rescue officer Chris Wilson says the skipper told her the Rebecca May began taking on water slowly but the crew were forced to abandon ship when their electronics shorted out, shutting down their pump and radio.

The authority says it does not yet know what caused the ship to sink and is investigating the incident.