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Man Swept To Sea Sparks Fears Of Third Drowning Today

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Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Wellington, April 5 NZPA - A man has been swept out to sea from a Northland beach this afternoon, prompting fears of a third drowning in one day after two deaths in the South Island.

The man, believed to be in his 20s, was swimming with about six others at Ngunguru, about 24km from Whangarei, when he was separated from the group at about 2.10pm.

The man was likely caught in a rip and carried out to sea past a sand spit, Senior Sergeant Matt Rogers of police northern communications said.

An emergency helicopter searched for about two hours, but was unable to find the man.

The Coast Guard was continuing to search for the man, while land search and rescue crews were scouring the coastline.

"It's not looking particularly good at this time, given the period of time," Mr Rogers said.

The search follows two drownings in the South Island today.

A man, believed to be in his 40s, drowned at Lake Mavora, in northern Southland, at about 1pm.

About two hours earlier, a 51-year-old Korean man was swept to his death while fishing off rocks at Cape Saunders, a popular fishing spot on the Otago Peninsula.

His body was recovered from the water at about 12.10pm as family gathered at the scene, Senior Sergeant Craig Brown of Dunedin police said.

Weather conditions had been fine but the sea was "sloppy", he said.

The man was the third person to be washed off the rocks in the past 12 to 18 months, but the first fatality in some years.

On Saturday, before the end of daylight saving, the 2010 drowning toll stood at 30 -- eight less than the same time last year.

NZPA WGT mb dw

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