Fishing trip ends in tragedy for two families

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 12 May, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 12 May, 2010, 12:00am

Four members of two Hong Kong families in Australia drowned and one is missing after they were swept away by waves while fishing on the New South Wales central coast.

One of the families - a man, 63, his wife, 61, and their son, 25, based in Carlingford near Sydney - had gone rock fishing on Sunday with a couple from North Rocks aged 56 and 58, at Catherine Hill Bay, about 100 kilometres north of Sydney, reports said.

The 25-year-old's grandmother called police on Sunday night when the family failed to return home and a search was launched.

A woman's body was found washed up in the Flat Rock area near the bay, south of where the group was fishing, at about 4pm on Monday.

Three men's bodies were found at about 10.50am yesterday a short distance from where police recovered the woman's body.

The search for the final member of the group was continuing, local police said.

Members of the group may have grabbed a life ring and jumped in to try to save others in the water. 'We are led to believe that the deployment of a life ring would suggest that they were struggling to retrieve or recover another person,' acting superintendent Joe McNulty, Marine Area Command regional controller, said.

He said the victims had possibly been swept off the rock platform or could have been doing other activities on the rock platform that caused them to enter the water.

Conditions on Sunday were believed to have been choppy with a southwesterly swell of between one and 1.5 metres.

Local media said the area was regarded as one of the region's deadliest fishing spots. This latest incident was the ninth reported there in less than two years. And six people have died while rock fishing in New South Wales since July last year.