Three people are dead and two were rescued after a catamaran capsized off the coast of Newcastle on Thursday morning.
Police said an emergency beacon was activated from a 11.7-metre catamaran about 10.10am after it overturned about 12 kilometres off Stockton Beach.
The Marine Rescue Association found three bodies in the water and two others, believed to be a 16-year-old girl and a 40-year-old man, have been pulled from the water and rushed to John Hunter Hospital.
The man is in a stable condition.
A NSW Ambulance spokesman told reporters they had been wearing life jackets at the time and sea conditions had been rough.
"The two people that they retrieved from the water were actually clutching on to the overturned vessel," he told reporters.
The spokesman said the Westpac Rescue Helicopter members were confronted with high seas and strong winds, approximately 30 knots, about 50km/h.
“Also what made the rescue quite difficult is being an overturned vessel, there was quite a lot of debris and ropes in the water at the time,” the spokesman told reporters.
“The Westpac crew have done a great job in retrieving the two remaining survivors and transporting them safely to the John Hunter Hospital where they are currently being assessed.”
The relationship between those on board the catamaran have not yet been established. The operation is ongoing.
Do you have a story tip? Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.