A huge sea search is underway off the coast of New Zealand for a six-year-old girl and her father who have disappeared after setting out on a catamaran nearly two weeks ago.
Police have said they hold grave concerns for the safety of Que Langdon, who departed with her father, Alan, on 17 December from the North Island in a 21ft (6.4-metre) white catamaran.
There are fears Alan Langdon could be attempting to sail to Australia, after Que’s mother hired a child recovery agent to locate her.
The pair were reported missing on 27 December. The boat has made no contact with other vessels or coastguard since leaving Kawhia harbour on the country’s west coast.
Alan Langdon is an experienced sailor and Que has spent much of her young life travelling the world by sea with her parents but New Zealand police said they were concerned for the pair’s safety.
An extensive aerial and sea search for the missing vessel is underway involving the Royal New Zealand Air Force, coast guard and marine patrols, scouring an area as far as 65km (35 nautical miles) offshore.
Interpol has also been alerted in case the boat has crossed international waters, and Maritime NZ is broadcasting details of the missing catamaran, asking everyone to report any sightings.
The search has focused on the Northland region of the North Island, both east and west coasts, after police received reports of a vessel similar to Langdon’s heading in that direction over the past few days.
NZ police said they were “looking at a multitude of possible scenarios as part of this search, and this includes advising and liaising with Interpol, in the event that Mr Langdon has left New Zealand”.
Que’s mother, Ariane Wyler Langdon, lives in Switzerland and contracted child recovery specialist Colin Chapman in April this year to help find Alan, who is her estranged partner, and Que, so she could serve him court papers.
Chapman said he would arrive in New Zealand to work with local contractors on Sunday or Monday, and believed Langdon could be attempting to sail to Australia with Que.
“We have no evidence at the moment that something untoward happened at sea, whether it is an accident or what not. But your search and rescue people have conducted a very thorough search so far and there is no wreckage, there is no sign of them, there is no nothing.”
Que’s mother told Fairfax Media she believed the pair were OK, and she trusted in her ex-partner’s sailing skills.
“I am strongly convinced that they both are alive, well and safe,” Wyler said. “Que spent her first four-and-a-half years of her life on a 46ft catamaran. I believe in Alan Langdon and his capabilities as a seagoing person. Now this boat is only 21ft long. It’s fairly small but in some ways it’s only a small version of Que’s previous home.”