Family of Southlander missing at sea consider private search

Southland man Lochie Bellerby, who was on a cattle ship that sank in the South China Sea last...
Southland man Lochie Bellerby, who was on a cattle ship that sank in the South China Sea last week. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
The family of a Southland man missing in the East China Sea have slammed the New Zealand Government for its lack of support and say it has "no choice" but to prepare to launch their own rescue plan.

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 today, 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 NZ government.

"The Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs 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 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".

An MFAT spokeswoman said the ministry was continuing to provide ‘‘all assistance possible’’ to the family and were 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.’’ 

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



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