Family consider own rescue plan

Lochie Bellerby. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
Lochie Bellerby. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
The family of a Southland man missing in the East China Sea are preparing to launch their own rescue plan, saying lack of support from the New Zealand Government has left them no choice.

Lochie Bellerby went missing after Gulf Livestock 1, the boat he and fellow New Zealander Scott Harris were working on, sank with 43 people on board during a typhoon on September 2.

In a statement yesterday, family spokeswoman Sue Sherburd said while the family was "overwhelmed" by the resources donated, the support and generosity of private individuals, they were "bewildered" by the lack of action by the New Zealand Government.

"The Prime Minister [Jacinda Ardern] and Minister for Foreign Affairs [Winston Peters] say they are doing ‘all we can do’ but this is not what's happening on the ground or if it is, the family are not aware of it.

"It would appear that we have no choice but to be ready to mount a private, locally organised response and rescue plan."

Yesterday, an independent satellite conducted a 15km-wide sweep of the area capturing high-definition images, she said.

The satellite will pass over again today.

"If the satellite search identifies ‘objects of interest’, we remain unclear about what the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade [Mfat] and the wider Government plan to do to mobilise quickly."

Offers of support from concerned New Zealand and Australian organisations and individuals wanting to help move the search forward were coming in "thick and fast".

Satellite organisations, Japanese translators, marine experts and local Japanese fishing villages had also been searching shorelines in their boats.

An Mfat spokeswoman said it was continuing to provide "all assistance possible" to the family and was keeping them updated regularly.

"We know this is an extremely stressful time for the families of the two missing New Zealanders.

"Our New Zealand embassy in Tokyo remains in close contact with Japan Coast Guard and is passing any new information obtained by the family to Japanese authorities."

Yesterday, Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters discussed the search with Japan’s Foreign Affairs Minister Motegi Toshimitsu.

A statement on the Mfat website said Mr Peters described the views of the family members of the two New Zealanders still missing, which were communicated to the New Zealand Government, to his Japanese counterpart.

Assistance was sought from Mr Motegi in responding to issues the families had raised about the search.

Questions were put to the Prime Minister but she was unable to respond before the Otago Daily Times went to print.



While I feel for the family's loss in such tragic circumstances I do not agree that the NZ Govt, or the NZ Taxpayer should spend a cent on investigating this incident.
The guy was a grown up, not a kid. He knew he was joining the crew of a ship registered under the Panamanian flag of convenience, He knew the ship was owned by a Jordanian Company, he knew the ship was a purpose built livestock carrier and all the risk that entails with open decks, he knew it was typhoon season. Other than maintaining contact with the agencies responsible for, or owning, the ship the NZ Govt should not get involved.


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