Jul 3, 2013 12:19 PM

Weather stalls search for missing Lafayette woman

New Zealand search and rescue officials were considering Wednesday whether to abandon the search for a U.S. sailing vessel that disappeared with seven people aboard, including a Lafayette woman.

Danielle Wright, 18, is one of the people missing on the 70-foot schooner Nina. The boat has not been heard from since June 4, when it was about 370 nautical miles west-northwest New Zealand.

The Rescue Coordination Centre New Zealand (RCCNZ) suspended the search for the on Wednesday as bad weather hit the search area reducing visibility.

Along with Wright were five other U.S. citizens -- three men aged 17, 28 and 58 and two other women aged 60 and 73 -- and a British man aged 35.

The boat, which was built in 1928, left Opua, New Zealand, on May 29, headed for Newcastle, Australia.

It was equipped with an emergency beacon, which had not been activated.

Extensive aerial searches over the past seven days had found no trace of the crew or their vessel or its life raft, said a statement from the RCCNZ.

RCCNZ operations manager John Seward said in the statement that the RCCNZ had been liaising with the families of those on board Nina, to ensure they were kept informed about the progress of the search.

RCCNZ search and rescue officers were reassessing all the information gathered so far and a decision on whether to continue the search would be made after a full review overnight and Thursday, said Seward.

The ocean and shoreline searches had covered an area totalling more than four times the size of New Zealand.

An RNZAF P3 Orion aircraft made radar sweeps of broad expanses of the Tasman Sea as far as the Australian coast. Shoreline searches were conducted along much of the west of the North Island.

Records showed that conditions at the vessel's last known position were very rough, with winds of 50 mph gusting to 69 mph and swells of up to 25 feet.


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