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Rescue mission after runabout flips in surf off Portland Island

THREE divers were plucked off Portland Island by the Trust Tairawhiti Rescue Helicopter yesterday morning after their runabout flipped over in rough,1.5-metre surf.

One of the group had a cellphone that still worked after being dunked in the sea and he was able to raise the alarm.

The Gisborne-based chopper crew were called out at around 10.30am.

“We found one of the men on Portland Island and the other two men were about 40 metres offshore on a rock,” chopper pilot James Easterbrook said.

All were wearing wetsuits.

“The older man in the group, aged in his 50s, had become a bit hypothermic, so one of his companions towed him to the rock and waited with him until we arrived.

The chopper crew hovered over the rock to pick up the hypothermic man and took him to a waiting St John ambulance at Mahia where he was stabilised.

“Then we went back for the other two, who looked like they were aged in their 30s and 40s,” Mr Easterbrook said.

“We landed on the island and picked them up. They were all really appreciative of us going down to help them out.”

The hypothermic man was flown to the emergency department at Gisborne Hospital for further treatment.

The kaimoana-gathering trio are believed to be from Hastings.

Their damaged boat washed up on the rocks on Portland Island.