(NEW YORK) — New satellite images have identified what appears to be a floating vessel resembling a schooner that was carrying seven people off the coast of New Zealand where it vanished five months ago after a brutal storm.
The new grainy images captured in September have given the families of the seven people on board The Nina new hope that their loved ones might still be alive.
The parents of U.S. crew member Danielle Wright, 19, who helped commission the private company that secured the new images said they’re excited about the possible discovery of the schooner.
“I did not sleep that night,” Wright’s mother Robin said. “I was so excited. I mean, this is what we’ve been waiting for. We’re always thinking what else can we be doing. There’s got to be somebody out there who can hear our plea.”
The images, secured by a private search and rescue group, appear to show a vessel of the same size and shape of the 85-year-old wooden schooner named The Nina that was carrying American David Dyche, his wife, their teenage son, Wright, along with a crew of three others from New Zealand to Australia when it disappeared in June. The satellite images indicate that the floating vessel is drifting where it is believed the crew disappeared in the Tasman Sea.
Officials in New Zealand are apparently not convinced, reportedly telling the crews’ families they’ll need better quality images before they relaunch the search.
The last time anyone spoke to the crew on The Nina was on June 3 as they traveled to Australia. A 73-year-old crew member named Evi used a satellite phone to call a meteorologist in New Zealand and said, “The weather’s turned nasty. How do we get away from it?”
The meteorologist advised her to head south and brace for the storm.
A month later, an undelivered text message was recovered from the day after the storm that read, “Thanks storm sails shredded last night, now bare poles. Goining (sic) 4kt 310deg will update course info (at) 6PM.”
Authorities said the storm that The Nina endured had winds gusting up to 68 mph and waves of up to 26 feet.
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
Lauren del Valle and Shachar Peled, CNN
Jennifer Rizzo, CNN