Powerful winds and 14-meter (46-foot) swells on Monday forced a cargo ship to abandon its efforts to rescue two injured New Zealanders from a damaged yacht in the South Pacific, officials said.
The cargo vessel Maunakea left the area northeast of the Chatham Islands shortly after midday because it was too dangerous to try to pick up the pair in the severe weather conditions, the Rescue Coordination Center said. Center spokeswoman Heidi Brook said a 49-year-old man on board the yacht Janette Gay had head, hip and back injuries while a 46-year-old woman crew member had an injured arm. It was unclear how they were injured.
The yacht's mast snapped in storm conditions Sunday night and it has been wallowing since then in heavy seas 780 kilometers (485 miles) northeast of the Chatham Islands and 500 kilometers (310 miles) east of New Zealand.
Brook said that to carry out a rescue, the 5,000-ton Maunakea would have needed to pull up very close to the Janette Gay and haul the two up a ladder on the side of the vessel.
One rescue attempt nearly wrecked the yacht, so the freighter's captain and the yacht's skipper decided not to try again in the current weather conditions, rescue coordinator Neville Blackmore said.
A life raft with medical supplies and radio gear dropped from an air force search airplane on Monday was lost in the bad weather conditions.
The pair sailed from Lyttelton on South Island last month for the Cook Islands, half way between New Zealand and Hawaii in the South Pacific, reported AP.