NZ rescuers can't reach plane crash site

·1-min read

Damaging winds mean rescuers are not likely to reach a plane crash site in New Zealand's Southern Alps until the weekend.

On Thursday, the alarm was sounded when a light plane set off from the West Coast and failed to reach its destination of Rangiora, near Christchurch.

The Rescue Coordination Centre (RCCNZ) was notified by Air Traffic Control of the missing aircraft when it was overdue.

Aoraki/Mt Cook Alpine Cliff Rescue and a defence force helicopter were recruited to the search.

On Thursday afternoon, RCCNZ reported a Christchurch-based rescue helicopter had located "a downed light plane near Mt Nicholson in the Southern Alps".

Radio NZ reports the plane was piloted by Franz Josef tourism identity Tim Gibb, who was the only person on board.

However, severe winds across South Island on Friday have delayed an effort to reach the site.

Meteorologists MetService have issued an orange alert for the area, predicting "damaging gusts of 140 to 160 km/h in exposed places", through to Saturday morning.

"Overnight a plan was developed (to) reach the area. This has now been put on hold due to winds being above a safe operating level for helicopters," an RCCNZ spokesman said.

"Another attempt will be made to reach the location of the crash when the weather improves. The situation will be regularly assessed."

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